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For the past several years, we’ve presented our own homegrown book-buzz event, sharing information about forthcoming books with the public, focusing on titles that might make good candidates for book-discussion groups. Most attendees at these events go home with ARCs, and all of them leave with an expanded to-be-read list. Designed to build buzz about books among influential readers—those who are most likely to talk about and share their reading experiences with others—the event draws about 50 attendees per session.
As they enter the event, attendees place their names into a drawing for door prizes that generally include tote bags and ARCs but have also included gift certificates provided by local booksellers or copies of the latest Saratoga Reads! selections, provided by our Friends. The heart of the event is a buzz through what is sometimes a rather lengthy list of forthcoming titles, with frequent stops to award prizes.
The feelings engendered in attendees are manyfold, but foremost among them is the sense of “insiderness” that comes from being privy to information before the rest of the world. Along with publisher swag, attendees are sent home with a couple admonitions: (1) to send their feedback about titles they have read to the publishers, and (2) not to sell ARCs (or donate them back to the library) when they’ve finished reading them.
By cultivating relationships with library marketing departments, we’ve augmented the swag that we’ve hauled home from conferences with materials provided by publishers. Over the past several years, the Association of American Publishers has ramped up its outreach efforts to libraries, especially those in major metropolitan areas, by offering regional book-buzz events to complement those offered to coincide with national conferences.
Those publisher-sponsored events are a tremendous resource for librarians involved in both collection development and readers’ advisory; however, if, like Saratoga Springs Public Library, your library is outside of a major metro area, you might not have the resources to attend them. If that’s the case, the AAP Adult Library Marketing Committee is a great source for information on forthcoming titles about which publishers are especially bullish.
Buzzing about forthcoming books is a great way to keep your customers coming back, and for us, it’s turned out to be a great way to build community. We conclude each session with a “swap and share” opportunity, allowing attendees to mingle, swap ARCs, and share their feelings about which forthcoming titles are most intriguing to them. And that’s priceless knowledge for collection-development and readers’-advisory folks!
A. Issac “Ike” Pulver is the Director of Saratoga Springs Public Library, in Saratoga Springs, New York.
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