I am just now getting to unpacking the box of galleys I mailed myself from Book Expo. Most of these galleys, some signed, are for friends. The sheer plethora of available galleys at the trade show really feels like a mini-shopping extravaganza with other people in mind. Yesterday I gave out the last of the gift galleys to two friends and a friend’s kid. After almost 20 years in business, it’s easy to forget that galleys are special and very, very fun to have.
I can always tell who the real readers are by their reaction to a galley. If they’re blasé about it, then maybe they’re not avid readers. If they’re practically beside themselves smiling broadly as they clutch it, then I always think of them as readers. Galleys are wonderful things. To read a book months ahead of the publication date is always a treat for people. Sometimes I see the galley case in my back office and feel nothing but overwhelmed. There’s often little joy in seeing the hundreds of books that wait for me to read them. But to give someone a galley and see the unadulterated joy is a great reminder that galleys are one of the best perks of bookstore work.
I explained to my friend’s daughter what a galley was, after I gave her one, and she was transfixed. That a book can be bound like a real book and yet, not be a finished book, was thrilling to her. She even said, “So, they can still make changes?” That this almost eight-year-old is excited about the editorial process is really kind of neat. She hugged the book to her chest before putting it away in her brand new Flying Pig tote bag.
Sometimes it takes the joy of a child to remind me that my work is special and getting to read all these books long before publication date is a joy, not a task.