“If you cannot read all your books…fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.” –Winston Churchill
I do think it is valuable to be aware of the books on our shelves and I love this Churchill quote. But that is not the focus of this post (although I thought you would enjoy the quote).
I subscribe to various newsletters and online publications to keep up with the publishing world, and the related worlds of literary figures, bookselling, libraries, and of course, new books. I’ve recently come across a new source of book news, Shelf Awareness. I’ve included a screenshot of the home page, as it appeared on Tuesday September 19.
Shelf Awareness is designed for two groups. One group is readers, which probably includes anyone who follows this blog. Each week they identify 25 of the best books coming out during the current week and provide reviews of those books. These include categories of fiction, mystery and thriller, science fiction and fantasy, food and wine, biography and memoir, history, business and economics, body, mind and spirit, social science, nature and environment, children and young adult, and poetry. Not all categories are included in every issue. There is also a “book candy” section with newsy tidbits, and an author interview. In the current children and young adult section, for example, you will find a review of a children’s version of It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The other group is people in the book trade. Shelf Awareness describes its effort for this group as follows:
“Shelf Awareness was born out of a need to provide a range of people in the industry–booksellers, librarians, book buyers at nontraditional stores, members of the media, marketers, salespeople, publishers and others–with essential information for their businesses, including news about titles coming out now, titles getting buzz in the media, authors on major shows, movie tie-ins, sleepers, news about the business, tips on how to sell, etc. We publish daily–first thing in the morning.”
In today’s issue, I learned that Amazon is opening two new warehouses to join two others in Ohio, one near Cincinnati, and one near Cleveland in North Randall (the other warehouses are near Columbus). There is also news of a bookstore closing (openings and closings are announced on many days), the theme for University Press Week (“Knowledge Matters”), an image of the day, Top Library Recommended Titles for October, a book trailer (a pretty common site on publisher websites these days), and more.
All this may be accessed on the Shelf Awareness website, but may also come to your email inbox. The readers version is called “Shelf Awareness for Readers” and is sent out twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. The booktrade newsletter is called “Shelf Awareness Pro” and is sent out daily. There is a checkbox that allows you to subscribe to both. The subscription is free. Of course, a service like this includes advertising and “advertorials” including links to buy books (not in the reviews however).
One of the leading alternatives in this field is Publishers Weekly, which also puts out a variety of daily newsletters. While the two overlap around reviews of books and news about the publishing industry, Shelf Awareness, at this point at least, seems much more streamlined, offering a much more reader-focused newsletter, and what seems to me a wider spectrum but more concise daily news summary of the book world.
If you are interested not only in what is on your personal shelves, but what will be appearing on the shelves of your favorite bookseller, Shelf Awareness is a great new resource. Give them a visit!