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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Early Word Closes: An Appreciation and What To Do Now

For the last nine years we have all had a wonderful Collection Development tool at our disposal thanks to its co-founder and editor Nora Rawlinson- Early Word. Billed from its start as the publisher librarian  connection, Nora and her team were the first library organization to really pressure the major publishers to take our profession as seriously as they took their work with bookstores. When Early Word began, there were only a few librarian liaisons at the major publishers, and now even the smaller publishers have a person who reaches out to libraries as part of their regular duties.

This huge step forward in our relationship with publishers and in them looking at us as worth their time is the biggest legacy Early Word leaves behind. I cannot stress this enough. Thank you Nora for recognizing that we needed to advocate for ourselves more. Her work has inspired action like Library Reads and has seen an increase in the number of Book Buzz programs put on for libraries, at the publishers’ cost, all over the country.

I have seen this shift first hand as smaller publishers now regularly reach out to me to ask how they can get their books in libraries. In fact, I am currently working on a project of my own to help independent publishers gain more traction with libraries, something I never would have even thought of pursuing without Nora setting the example.

I know many of you are upset asking how you will be able to stay as aware and current on the latest Collection Development issues without Early Word, so for all of you I will offer this list of resources, which if combined can fill much of the void-- it just won’t all be in one place anymore. However, spend some time now putting a few bookmarks in one folder, and it can be almost as easy.

Click here to access Shelf Awareness’ daily updates
For years I have received the Shelf Awareness [above] daily email for people in the book trade. It is the first thing I read each morning, and it contains everything you need to know about what is going on in the world of books right now.

largehearted boy is "a literature and music website that explores that spot in the venn diagram where the two arts overlap.”  You can follow the blog daily but you can also use the “lists” archive to find hot upcoming titles. It also has the most extensive “best books” archive on the web. Here is the link for 2016. The information there is updated frequently and includes reports from a few bookstores on a regular basis.

Book Riot: In general Book Riot is a great resource for book info. They provide display friendly lists, have plenty of pop culture tie-ins, give genre fiction the chance to shine, and don’t ignore the lure of the backlist. They also have many librarians who write for them so our interests are well covered.

Participate in Library Reads: As I mentioned above, Library Reads would not be possible without Early Word. Early Word made publishers start to take libraries seriously from a financial standpoint which made them more willing to provide librarians with eArcs for Library Reads. The service Library Reads provides in and of itself is useful to all of us as we do collection development.

Don’t forget that you can keep using many of Early Word’s archived list of links in both gutters of the blog. I am not sure how long the website will stay up, but you can easily cut and paste the ones you find most useful into a Google doc to use anytime.

And finally, RA for All: What I do and what Early Word did were complimentary with only minor overlap. I focus on RA service while Early Word’s focus was Collection Development. A few people have reached out to me asking if I would carry on what Nora and her team did. My answer is, unfortunately, no. I am one person and they were a team. I use this blog to help you serve readers better but I also use it as the support website for my training business which in economic terms means if I stray from my own business model, this blog will not be financial feasible anymore. I don’t have to monetize this blog with ads because I am being paid to come train people; the blog supports that mission and therefore “makes money." [I don’t get paid for the Shelf Awareness giveaway I always run in the right gutter of the blog. I do that to let you all have chances to win books at anytime; running giveaways on my own takes too much time.]

I often chose not to post things that were more Collection Development driven because I knew Early Word was covering it. With Early Word closing, I may post a bit more on the Collection Development side, but honestly, if you use the resources I mention above in tandem, you will mostly replicate the Early Word experience, and, I would argue, get more out of it because you are looking at multiple sources with different perspectives- always a good idea in general.

I will, however, begin to post some more Collection Development type items here on RA for All going forward, at least more than I did when I knew Early Word had it covered.

But, I do challenge those of you who do a lot of Collection Development to think about starting a website to fill a portion of the void Early Word is leaving behind. It doesn’t have to be as slick as Early Word was. If can be a simple website with a few links that you update every once in a while. But if just 1 or 2 of those people lamenting the loss of Early Word in the comments took their sadness and channeled it into some action, we’d have another resource to help everyone.

Don’t think you can do it? Well 9 years and 11 months ago I took a leap and started this blog. Look where it has taken me and all of you in the process. Why not give it a try yourself? Use what Nora taught you to help yourself and your colleagues.  That would be the best way to show your appreciation to Early Word. And if you do decide to start something new, let me know. I will feature it here on the blog.


Robin's Books said...

Nora has graciously allowed the monthly GalleyChat discussions to continue (both adult and YA) so CD librarians can tune in on Twitter on the first Tuesday of the month for adult (this month July 11 due to holiday) and the third Tuesday of the month for YA starting at 4:00 ET. Hashtags are #ewgc and #ewgcya . I was employed by Nora to write a monthly summary for the adult discussions and also compile the titles mentioned on Edelweiss, and while the summaries will no longer appear, we are working on finding a way to continue the titles as that seem to be the most missed. For more information, check here: http://www.earlyword.com/galleychat/

Robin Beerbower

Nora R said...


I couldn't have dreamed of a better assessment of what EarlyWord has been about. I hope we accomplished even a portion of what you give us credit for, but many others, including you, have been instrumental in forging better links between publishers and librarians.

One of the things I've enjoyed most about EarlyWord is getting to know the library marketing people at the various publishing houses. Like librarians, they are true book people, who read and promote books beyond their own publishers' titles.

In addition to your excellent list of sites to fill the gap, I suggest that librarians make friends with the library marketers .Contact lists are on our site:



Although we are no longer posting daily or publishing our newsletter, the EarlyWord site will continue to be available as the home of monthly GalleyChats (see Robin's earlier post).

Thanks to you and all your readers, Becky.

Keep on reading,