Galleys Galore

Josie Leavitt - July 9, 2009

Owning a bookstore, while lovely, comes with a lot of stuff. Catalogs, more catalogs, publisher kits, and galleys — lots and lots of galleys. I love getting galleys, don’t get me wrong. It’s really important to read the books before sales meetings so we can make intelligent decisions about what to buy and in what quantity. And I still thrill at reading a book six months before it comes out. After 13 years, I’ve got some treasures — a galley of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 and Because of Winn-Dixie, to name just a few. These are galleys that we’ll always keep. Then there are the galleys I enjoyed, but don’t want to keep, add to that the galleys I didn’t have time to read in 1998, and the galleys that don’t fit with my stock, and I’m basically drowning in them.

But, I cannot throw a book out, even a galley. I can’t do stripped cover returns because you’re supposed to throw out the books after you mail the covers to publishers. I just can’t do it. So now I am left with mountains of galleys that have literally taken over my mud room. I actually put eight feet of shelves in there, so the galleys would have a home. The shelves are already full with last year’s and this year’s galleys. Elizabeth and I have a new system: we keep galleys for this year and last year. The rest now need homes.

I try to give away as galleys as I can at teacher’s nights, but honestly, that’s just a drop in the bucket. The past two years I’ve given away the rest, box by box. I know you can’t give galleys to libraries or schools, but there are lots of other worthwhile places to give galleys. Elizabeth and I try give as much thought to our galley gifts as we do to customers in the store. In the fall, the Vermont prison system got three boxes of galleys: one for the men’s prison, one for the women’s and one for the high school. Prisons are often an underserved institution. And because children visit their parents, kids’ books are fine to donate. 

I like to give boxes of books to our local Ronald McDonald House — lots of picture books for the kids, lighter fiction for older kids and easy reading for the adults. We have a massively long stapler that makes stapling F&G’s very easy. This way the picture books read like real books. This past spring we gave a box of galleys to a customer who works with at-risk youth teaching them reading and poetry. This box had a range of reading levels from age eight to adult; all the books were a real hit and we got the nicest thank-you letter. One thing we do to cut down on the shipping costs, although media mail isn’t that much these days is have a local contact for the organization pick the books up. They’re happy to do it and saves a little time and money.

One of my favorite things to do with galleys, especially ones that are for the current year, is give them to one of my kid customers to read and review. I try to be organized enough that I’ll get the buy/not buy reviews in time for my actual meeting. I’ve got an amazing 12-year old right now reading for the store this summer. Her reviews are so well written and thorough I feel I’ve read the book. Her comments are great: "Would be a great book if I were an eight year old boy. I’m not, but I liked it anyway, in a simple way." I have one boy who just puts a post-it on the galley with a very simple YES or NO. Sadly, his reviews, brief as they are, tend to get to me about a year after I need them.

Obviously, our staff takes galleys, but we have a rule at the store — if you take a galley home, you have to find it a new home, it cannot come back to the store. I counted the galleys in my mudroom and I’ve got over 300 just for this year alone. Lots of galleys and lots of great books. Fall is looking awfully good. A year from now, I’ll have to find places for all of these books. But for now, I can enjoy them.

I’m always curious what other stores do with their galleys. If you have a second, I’d love to know how your store deals with them.

18 thoughts on “Galleys Galore

  1. Vicki

    Hi Josie, I don’t work in a bookstore, but I’m a galley girl too. Working in the publishing industry is a dream job for me, and free books are heaven! I have a cupboard in my bookcase (2 shelves, can hold 2 to 3 galleys deep) dedicated to galleys. I actually give them to the library, as they can sell them at their Friends of the Library sales. Right now I have 3 stacks from BEA waiting to be sorted through. If I haven’t read a galley from two years ago, I *have* to give it away. (Though I do give myself leeway on books from the year before.) What a lovely problem to have–too many books! : )

  2. Kristi

    Other places that may appreciate galleys would be women’s shelters, homeless shelters and hospitals! What a lovely problem to have and you have the chance to share the joy of reading with others that may not have access.

  3. Miriam

    In New York, I tend to donate galleys to Housing Works, a HIV/AIDS charity that runs a used boosktore (along with a clothing thrift store, a used furniture store, a coffee shop…). It makes me feel all virtuous!

  4. Sister

    Even if the money goes to charity or to Friends of the Library, I have a problem with this because they are clearly marked “Not for sale.” How do others feel about galleys being sold?

  5. Peggy

    We have an Advance Readers’ Team at Otowi Station Bookstore in Los Alamos, NM. Customers find an ARC they want to read, sign the team log with their name and the book they’re reading, take an evaluation sheet, and send us a review of the ARC and a recommendation about whether to stock it. Kids help, too; their parents must sign them up for membership on the team. The team works really well for us.

  6. Cathy B.

    We donate the easy readers and children’s chapter books to new teachers setting up classroom libraries. Teen/YA books go to high school librarians in socioeconomically diverse areas so they can share the books with the teens active in their book clubs and libraries.

  7. Kat Kan

    You CAN give galleys to libraries, they just can’t catalog and shelve them. Librarians are desperate to get their hands on advance copies, and sometimes they’re able to pass them on to the children and teens who come regularly to the library. So please consider libraries in your giving. I give some of the galleys I receive to my local public library, and after the librarians are done, they share with their young patrons.

  8. irish

    I hope you count your blessings every night for the wonderful gifts you receive.When you read one that particularly moves you then count your blessings twice!!!Then this gift continues on giving when you share it with someone else. What a wonderful world.

  9. George Edward Stanley

    Why not contact the curators of the different children’s literature collections at universities around the country? All my manuscript drafts, correspondence, galleys, etc. go to the de Grummond Children’s Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. But there are other collections, too.

  10. George Edward Stanley

    One other thing: The problem with galleys is that they are in most cases “uncorrected proofs.” There are often a lot of changes between the galleys and the final book. Researchers (who pour over manuscripts in university collections) love to make comparisons. I’m thinking that ordinary readers won’t really be getting the benefit of the finished (and polished) work.

  11. Sabrina McClure

    Why not consider working with a local school or two depending on age levels and quantity? You could do something similar to what you are doing with the 12 year old on a larger scale. Also, if you have an area school that has a large Title I population, consider giving them to the students outright. These students are often starved for any kind of reading material that they can call their own. Thanks for the post. This was an area I’d not considered before. I’ll be checking my local bookstores regarding their own “galley” situations.

  12. irisgirl

    Our store has a “Kids’ Book Buzz” group of kids from grades 4-6 who meet once a month. A pile of galleys is quickly booktalked and then each participant chooses a galley to take home. They come back the next month with a short review (which we display on a “Kid PIcks” shelf when the book comes in) and they booktalk the books they’ve read. If they liked the book they can keep it. If not, it goes back on the new pile of choices. It’s fun and revealing to them to see that something they didnt like is seen differently by someone else. This does create a great book buzz as the kids talk about the other books they’ve enjoyed by the authors. They talk about the good books they’ve read with friends outside the group as well. Additional bonus is their parents usually spend the hour browsing for themselves and buying something. We also have a “Teen Galley Group” meeting monthly. Our Thursday evenings can be very interesting. Sue

  13. Kat Kan

    In my own opinion, it’s wrong to sell a galley, precisely because it’s an advance proof and not the final copy of the book; changes and corrections still have to be made for the final copy. Giving them away is one thing, selling them (or cataloging and shelving them) is entirely another. I refuse to buy galleys; I have bought “used hardcovers” from online sellers that turned out to be advance copies. In each case I have demanded a refund because the book was NOT what was advertised and paid for. If the seller demanded the return of the item, I’d make a note to myself to never buy from that seller again; who’s to say that seller won’t just put the advance copy up for sale again? Advance copies are clearly marked NOT FOR SALE and therefore should never be sold, for any reason.

  14. Coleen

    I used to work in a bookstore and feel your pain about throwing away galleys. We were required to do strip covers also, and I felt so guilty throwing away all of those books when they could have found so many good homes. I loved your idea of giving a galley to a kid customer to review. I’m just starting my career in the publishing industry so I have a feeling this is only the beginning of galleys for me!

  15. Chery Pickett

    My area has a teeny tiny library so they run into a similar situation with not having enough room for older books as they buy new ones. They’ve started recycling. They have a paper collection bin so they earn a few dollars too. It’s not easy taking them apart at first, (no covers, not too thick), but it’s much better all the way around than simply throwing them in the garbage.

  16. M. Lane

    I’ve never understood the NOT FOR SALE rule. My boss has made it quite clear that if any of his booksellers attempted to sell advance copies, he would remove our heads from our bodies. However, I did notice a copy of Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire on a few used book sites with the asking price of several hundred dollars. There’s something not right about that.

  17. Kim

    As a former bookseller and reviewer for going on 15 years, I receive boxes of books and galleys every day. AFter sorthing through, some I keep, and others go to other places in need, such as underfunded and inner-city schools. I also donate to churches to be used in their libraries or shared with others in need, such as missionaries. I also hope to o[en a new children’s bookstore similar to the one in Indianapolis. When that happens, one of the ways I wanted to give back to the community was through a program called something like “Come with a cause.” Maybe a burned-down library, a doctor’s office, a family in need. I also donated many books to Riley’s Children’s Hospital. I’m just constantly on the look out for ways to share, and I love all your suggesions. .

  18. Melissa

    Right now I’m giving away galleys in a summer reading program at the shop – for every 3 books a kid buys, reads and reviews for the store (we have a review sheet that takes about 1 minute to fill out), they get to pick a book out of the galley bags. They also get an entry into an end of the summer contest that has various prizes (including some of the finished copies of books I’ve received). In the past I’ve given them to teachers or donated them to the Salvation Army, figuring that the quarter the SA typically charges for a pb is not a horrible violation of the DO NOT SELL rule.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *