When Galleys Find a Home

Josie Leavitt - March 5, 2012

I know some folks think it’s wonderful to get galleys and I agree. But every so often I stand in my office amid the galleys and I want to scream, just a little. Over the weekend I was confronted by the sheer number of books I have in my house. I have galleys from 2009 forward, and that’s a lot of books.
Galleys are truly one of the best perks of working at a bookstore. I get these yummy books months before they come out. They’re like great secret candies. The problem is every season there seems to be hundreds of galleys. These galleys need a home, and often that’s my house. But before the land in my office they have a long life at the bookstore.
Galleys come into the store in droves this time of year. I just got a box of galleys for books that are coming out in November and December. I feel as if I’ve barely read the galleys for books that came out in January. We have a stack of boxes five feet high with all the galleys arranged by month, just through May. Each staffer initials when she’s looked through the box. So, now I’m stuck with boxes that have books that either they didn’t want to read, or have read and returned.
Sometimes we take galley boxes to the store basement after everyone has looked at them. I’m trying not to do this, as the basement seems to be the place where things go to die. Because galleys can’t be sold, and I refuse to recycle or throw out books, the galleys can hang around for quite some time.
I literally had no place to put the newest crop of galleys anywhere other than my dining room table. After a week of that, I couldn’t bear it anymore. I took boxes from the store and cleaned out my office of any galleys that weren’t 2012. First, I moved all the galleys from the dining room table to the kitchen counter. While not my first choice for storing the books, it had the advantage of being in a place I wanted restored to its original use, so I knew I wouldn’t drag my feet on this project.
It took my trips to and from the office to empty the spinner (we had one extra when we moved, so brought the store case home, a lovely benefit of owning a bookstore). Finally, I was done. I was looking an entire dining room table covered entirely by books. Elizabeth and I sorted them by age and then put a bookplate in them that reminded folks the books couldn’t be sold or placed in a circulating library (this step is the slowest part of the whole process). Then we boxed them up by age and labeled them for various schools, prisons and hospitals. I feel good about giving galleys to charitable organizations; they have limited resources and almost always desperately need books. The Ronald McDonald House is a great place for a box mixed with all kinds of books. Some for the kids and some for the parents. Six boxes later and we’re still not done with the young adult books, which seem to be 65% of our galleys.
I then got to set the spinner by publication month. I’ve left plenty of room for more galleys, but the case is surprisingly full already. It is so nice to have the all galleys in one place and thoughtfully organized. If I were truly organized, they’d be organized by publisher for every month. But honestly, I don’t have that kind of time.
So, now as I admire my handiwork, the hardest part of this process is going to be choosing what to read, as there a lot of exciting books coming out this year. What books are you excited about this year?

18 thoughts on “When Galleys Find a Home

  1. Lora

    If galleys can’t be sold, is it allowed to host a giveaway for ones you don’t want to keep?
    This year, I’m most excited for INSURGENT! May can’t come soon enough =).

  2. cj omololu

    For the past several months, I’ve been picking up the old galleys from the lovely Maggie at Books Inc. to distribute to my 9th grade book club at our local high school. Many of these kids don’t own any books, so to be able to keep a galley is an unimaginable treat so it’s a huge win-win for all of us.

  3. Jody

    this past week an ARC of a highly anticipated book sold for $255. yes you read it right, on line. The next day the same seller had another of the same ARC for $269. Within 12 hrs it was pulled. There were others listed at around $120.+ and they were pulled also. Hopefully the Publisher had something to do with this. It’s gotten out of hand. I donate as many book and ARCs I can to our library and they love it. I’m sure all those people will be so greatfull.

  4. Alison's Book Marks

    I have been bringing my galleys to a children’s hospital, where they seem to get gobbled up by readers! Aside from never feeling quite completely organized with my books, it’s nice to know I’m not alone when I look at the old galleys and wonder where the time has gone, as I’m now receiving books for Fall 2012. A part of me wishes that publishers will agree to give us readers/reviewers/bookstore owners a little pause and stop publishing new books. Just for three months! Alas, we never get caught up.

  5. Sue Kelso

    My local indie puts her galleys on a book case and you get to choose a free one for every $20.00 you spend.

  6. Peggy

    We have an Advance Readers Team. Customers choose a galley, read it, and write a brief review that also recommends whether we carry the book when it hits the street. The customers get to keep the galleys for their reward. I love reading the kids’ reviews. If they don’t like a book, they’re very specific about why they’ve cut it off at the knees.
    We also give galleys to the “recreational reading” class at the middle school and to the local food co-op, which builds strong bodies the way we build strong minds.

  7. Kathy

    Twice a year we would have a “Book Blurb” night where I would review new books to book clubs. They were by reservation only, limited to 50. The big draw was the galleys. We would put out all of our galleys (20 or 30 boxes sometimes) and an hour before the program turn them loose! People would walk out with boxes and grocery bags full and would talk about them for months. The five or ten lonely leftovers were always so weird, we never had a problem throwing them away.

  8. Tint

    At the indie were I used to work we would “sell” our galleys for a $2.00 donation that went to our local literacy fund.

  9. Carol B. Chittenden

    We keep trying different channels, and find that some work better than others: the Senior Center and schools love to have us deliver ARC’s; the Military Support Group begged off, and the food pantry/service center finds it can only give away picture and board books.

  10. Lynn

    There’s nothing cooler than having the galley and the actual published book next to each other on your bookshelf.

  11. Vicki Jaeger

    Josie, I totally understand the feeling you’re drowning in ARCs! I have a very hard time getting rid of them, and feel obligated to read every one sent to me. That being said, at a certain point you have to buckle down and make hard choices–or have a house overrun with them! I’ve made a 2 year rule: if I haven’t read it by the end of 2 years, I have to read them within 2 months or donate them. (Of course, there are exceptions all the time!)

  12. Susie Wilmer

    Our library is planning a flash mob on the downtown plaza near our store early next month. I am boxing up the extra ARCs with a book mark from the store and planning on passing them out to everyone. I can only hope to get to all the strays left in my house unread.

  13. Carter

    We started a kids review program just over a year ago with our galleys and we now have over 600 kids in the program. We get around three reviews A DAY from kids ages 7-17 and it’s pretty much all word-of-mouth at this point. Since starting the program, we’ve seen a tremendous jump in store loyalty and frequency from our customers, and we’ve also seen a lot of new faces. I can’t speak highly enough about the success of the program. Select reviews get used as shelftalkers in the store and all reviews go to our blog. We still donate a lot of galleys to various community groups, but this has been a great way to build our young customer base (and their parents).

  14. Vicki

    I miss working at a book store and being privy to all those galleys!
    I would like to second all the comments that advocated giving galleys to schools or hospitals.
    I work at a school where new books are hard to come by (we are overseas) and galleys are non-existent. I know we would love if someone donated them to us.

  15. Marcia Kaplan

    Oh the galley dilema, I have a sixteen year old high school student who does reviews for me. She loves to come over and collect about 10 books at a time and do reviews. When I no longer need the books, I donate them to teachers for extra books for their students to read. It is so nice to hear how well loved the books are to the classroom. Sometimes a parent and child come in and we have them read one of the books and do reviews for my blogspot. A win, win situation! I have all of this years organized so I can plow through them. Nice to know I am not alone with what to do with a galley.

  16. linda cohen

    When my shelves at home get too full(and the rainy season in Portland is mostly past) I put my old arcs on the front porch with a big sign that says FREE BOOKS and then secretly watch out the upstairs window to see who’s taking them away. Some stacks take longer than others but eventually they all disappear 🙂

  17. Dianna Winget

    Your post made me laugh with sympathy, Josie, especially the part about refusing to throw any books out. Every so often I have to toss an old, worn out, falling apart book in our wood stove and I feel like I’ve committed murder! Anyway, as you’re pawing through all those wonderful galleys, keep an eye out for “A Smidgen of Sky,” from Harcourt. It’s my debut MG and it’s due out November 6. You asked which upcoming books we were most excited about . . . that’s the one I’m most excited about 🙂


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