ARC Feeding Frenzy

Alison Morris -- April 29th, 2008

Normally when a box of galleys arrives in my office, I don’t have to be too concerned about who’s got first dibs on any one title. As the buyer I generally believe that I’ve got them. End of story. As an absurdly busy buyer, though, I’ve lately been offering up the "first read" opportunity on almost everything to other people, knowing I’ve got too little reading time these days and that others should therefore get to read the hottest titles without having to wait several months for me to get around to them. I’d rather have the ARCs in people’s hands than at my house collecting dust.

Typically I know just who on our staff will be the most enthusiastic about the arrival of any one ARC, and I immediately offer it up to that particular person. Last week, though, a galley arrived at our store that I KNEW was going to kick up a considerable amount of ARC jealousy and calling of "dibs!" Sure enough, the second I announced to Lorna what I was holding in my hot little hands she squealed that SHE wanted to read it first! What was it? The Runaway Dolls by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin — the long-awaited third book that continues the story begun in The Doll People. (I couldn’t find a final cover image for the book anywhere online, but I’ve scanned my galley and added the pic here, so at least you’ll have some image in your mind as I continue…)

After a brief conversation in which I explained that Melinda Lombardo (who recently joined our staff after 25 years as the children’s book buyer for New England Mobile Book Fairs) had been handselling The Doll People at a rate of about 5-10 copies per week since her arrival, Lorna conceded that Melinda could read The Runaway Dolls first. But THEN when I called the excited Melinda who said she’d pick it up the following day, Lorna decided that she could therefore take the ARC home with her that day, IF she promised to finish reading it that night and bring it back the following day. WHICH she did. Her report: Fun! Fabulous! Just as good as the first two books in the series.

Melinda has since finished the book too and has also given it her own thumbs-up. I believe Pat might be reading it next. After Pat I think either Kym or Lisa is in line to take a turn. Or maybe it’s Mayre…? I don’t remember the exact line-up. EVENTUALLY, though, the galley will make its back to me. (Hopefully at a time when I’m actually free enough to read it!)

While waiting my turn, though, I confess to having levelled the "first dibs" playing field a bit by secreting away the galley for Sharon Creech’s Hate That Cat without mentioning its existence to anyone. I knew it was one book I could actually find time to read from cover to cover (i.e. about 20 minutes).

And what a sweet, sweet 20 minutes it was!! Fans of Love That Dog will NOT be disappointed with this continuation of Jack’s story, and will be thrilled to see the progress he’s making with his poetry, his appreciation of pets, and his awareness of alliteration.

Hate That Cat has since been read by Lorna and Pat and is currently being read by Deb, who will then pass it on to Kym who (to our horror!) admitted the other night that she’d never read Love That Dog! I immediately fetched a copy from the sales floor so that she could rectify the situation.

The next galley to burn its way through the lot of us? I predict it’s going to be The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I have, I admit, been holding the galley hostage until I head off on vacation next week, at which point I know I will devour it whole and then have a hard time shutting up about it, as that seems to be the effect it’s had on EVERYONE who has read it to date. In all my almost 10 (yikes!) years of bookselling I can’t remember so many booksellers getting so excited (or being so secretive!) about the same ARC. Except maybe in the case of books by Rowling and Pullman… And what excellent company for Suzanne Collins to be keeping!

In the meantime, I’m going to make as many people as possible read Cecilia Galante’s The Patron Saint of Butterflies, which I made the mistake of starting on Friday and had finished by Sunday afternoon. (Though I didn’t allow myself to so much as touch the book on Saturday, so that I wouldn’t be tempted to stray from my own writing!) I was completely taken in by Agnes and Honey’s story and can think of nothing negative to say about it except that I’m not wild about the title. Apart from that, though? No complaints! Only raves. And a remark that it seems a very relevant book to use right now for anyone keen to discuss the recent raid on the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, Texas.

If you’ve had this book in your one-of-these-days-I-WILL-get-to-it piles, I say move it to the top. I’m tipping my hat to Kristen McLean of ABC who, in a conversation on Friday, got me to do just that. Now perhaps my enthusiasm will help convince YOU.

3 thoughts on “ARC Feeding Frenzy

  1. JMP

    All right! All right! I’ve nabbed a copy of THE PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES. How could I resist? I’ll even move it up in the TBR stack. 🙂

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