Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Have I Told You That I LOVE NetGalley?
NetGalley is fast becoming one of my favorite websites. Barbour, a publisher for which I've done many reviews over the years, invited me to join over a year ago. I clicked the buttons, joined and quickly decided that it wasn't for me--the galleys they offered were mainly those to which I already had access, and besides, they were mainly e-editions and I didn't relish the thought of reading books on my computer.
What's changed? Well, for one thing, I got a Kindle for Christmas. For another, their catalog is much larger that it was when I first joined, and it is getting bigger by the day. Books are added and subtracted daily, but the available book count has hovered right around 800 since I became active on the site last month. While heavy on the romance and Christian fiction, you can find cookbooks, business books, arts and crafts books, mysteries, thrillers and even literary fiction from university presses. The romance novels range from those by Debbie Macomber and Susan Wiggs to paranormal romances about which I have no desire to learn more, from chaste Christian books to erotica.
One of the main things I like about NetGalley is that bloggers are under no obligation to review the books they get. I know the reason they are being made available is because the publishers hope for (positive) reviews, and my guess is that if I don't crank out a reasonable number of reviews of a publisher's books after requesting them, I may find myself not being granted access to that publisher's books (publishers can either set you to auto-approved, or they have to grant approval for each galley you request--but at this point the vast majority of my requests have been granted). However, when a publisher mails me a printed book, I know there are production and mailing costs involved. Often the books come to me as part of a book tour, obligating me to publish a review or certain copy within a certain time frame. In short, I feel obligated to spend at least some time trying to like the book, and I have to write something about it. While I won't give a good review to a book I don't like, I have ended up spending more time than I want on books I'd rather not finish. With NetGalley books, if they don't quickly catch my interest, they are dropped with nothing more than a thank-you to the publisher.
NetGalley isn't perfect. As I noted, I have a Kindle, and I know Amazon would rather have me reading their books than getting them elsewhere, so I can't completely blame this on NetGalley, but NetGalley and Kindle don't always play nicely together. A couple of weeks ago I got an email stating that NetGalley's "Send to Kindle" buttons were being disabled temporarily; that there was some technical issue. Since that time however, the majority of books I've requested have had that option and they've come to my Kindle without a problem. However, the Kindle versions aren't real Kindle files, they are PDFs which will sometimes give some odd effects if the book has chapter titles, or the first letter of a chapter in big type or things like that. Justification is sometimes off too. I've requested a couple of galleys that had a lot of pictures and I wasn't at all happy with the way they displayed. Still, NetGalley's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses and if you are a book blogger, librarian or other "professional reader" you are missing a lot if you aren't a member.