Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Edelweiss, Or Crack Cocaine for Librarians/Collection Development People (Stephanie Wilkes)

This is one of those ‘informative training type’ posts where I want to let you guys in on a little website that has completely blown my Snuggie off.  (Don’t steal my phrase…I’m gonna trademark that.)  Basically, if you are a librarian who orders books or if you work in collection development, you are going to want info about this website.  Edelweiss is a website that has this tagline: “Whether you're a bookseller, sales rep, librarian, reviewer, or publisher, you have the same goal: to connect readers with books”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Basically, this website is an amalgamation of publisher’s catalogs.  All of them.   EVER.  Well, probably not all of them but pretty much all of the ones that you are ordering books for your collection from.  Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Egmont USA, Houghton Mifflin….you name it.  (I’m not paid by anyone to rep their publishing companies at all…if I left you off it was just because of a major lack of coffee and like I said, every publisher in the WORLD is on this site.  So that is your inclusion.  I’m going to stop now.)


So, instead of waiting for those color catalogs to come in the mail and letting them pile up on a corner in your office along with all other mail that we get daily, you can create an account and peruse the catalogs one by one all day long.

Now why is it crack-cocaine for you?  Because you can sit there and go through these catalogs for hours. Days.  Weeks.  Possibly months if you are an extremely slow reader, clicker, and you have an older computer.  Basically, the books are all listed in the catalog and you can see publication date, a ranking on Goodreads and the blogosphere of reactions, if it is the Frontlist or Backlist, the blurbs for the book, about the author info, publicity info from the publisher, and the list goes on.  Here is a sample of one of the listings for a book that I am absolutely salivating over:

See the page here
You can see the sale date, the ISBN #, the targeted audience, pages, sales rights, the Goodreads meter that shows the popularity of the title, summary, bio, marketing plans, selling points (which can be used for book talks), and quotes and reviews.  What more could you ask for?
Oh, well this:
See the page here
That little green button?  Yes, on Edelweiss you can Request a Review Copy for your e-reader.  So, it takes what NetGalley has done and brought it up to a collection development level.  I will say that NetGalley does have more YA titles than Edelweiss though, not sure why. 

Here’s the deal…with the abundance of rights being sold for trilogies and series, it is in your absolute best interest to use resources like these when you are working on collection development.  I preach day in and day out that Amazon should not be your discovery point for book selection and I 100% stand by that statement.  If you are a true professional, you should be using professional resources.  If you are training to be a librarian, work in a library, or want to ever work in this field, you should be learning how to use professional resources, not websites like Amazon, to determine what books are coming out and when.  There are several websites that collect information about release dates for YA books (http://yalit.com) and TeenReads (www.teenreads.com).   And, personally, if you want to browse a website to see what is selling, I urge you to use Indie Bound (www.indiebound.org).

There are other options you can use on this site to help you, some of which I am just now starting to use now that the glazed eyes have worn off after a three-day collection development spree.  For example, creating your own collections and even using a feature called GeoSearch, which enables you to find materials published that may have your city mentioned or authors near you. 

Okay, so a recap.  Schedule yourself a good 4 days in your office.  Make a large pot of coffee/tea/beverage of choice and sit down at your computer.  Crack your knuckles.  Pop your neck.  Go to http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com and create an account.  We’ll see you next week and Karen and I will try not to post anything very exciting until then.  And for those of you who already have an addiction to Edelweiss, we will be having our first Edelweiss Non-Anonymous meeting soon via Twitter. 

If you have questions about Edelweiss, feel free use their help page or contact them via Twitter @weiss_squad.  They are super helpful, super friendly, and as with all metaphorical drug dealers, readily available. - Stephanie Wilkes

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the resources. This is a serious question. I am just a beginning developer of collections, I have been doing mostly YA in our library. My question to you is - could you elaborate on why you use these other resources over Amazon? Maybe it is just my library, but I have found that the more I use Amazon (for #'s) and certain blogs that review advanced copies (for content review), the better my circulation seems to be. The more I have tried to order from catalogs (well-reviewed by professionals,) the less the kids seem to check those out. Is this just a YA thing? Or are you not wanting to focus on actual circulation? Just some serious questions, like I said, from a novice. Thanks!

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    1. You are correct, sometimes what is well reviewed is not popular with our teens and our circulation statistics can prove it. As a reviewer, I tend to look at it with two separate eyes: 1) is it well written? and 2) will teens like it? This is one of the advantages of VOYA, they separate their reviews into these two categories: quality and popularity. Edelweiss puts all this information into one spot for you and unlike Amazon, it can give you information before you need to have it in your library. I have gone from a large to a small library (with a tiny budget) and I really find myself using Edelweiss and Netgalley because I want to see - and read - the book for myself to make selection decisions. Edelweiss puts so much information in one place by connecting to the Goodreads account and more. And of course, we try to provide reviews here to help you as well. We are already doing it for ourselves, so we might as well share it with everyone else. But I'll let Steph answer as well.

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    2. I am all about making sure that we are selecting books from a discovery point that is a reputable source. I use Amazon as a secondary source. One of the main reasons why is because those Professional Reviews and websites that are not looking to make a sale are the websites in which you will need to show proof of in case you or your library is ever challenged for materials.

      While I focus on what is popular as well, it is also just as important that I make sure that I have sources to back me up in the case of a challenge and Amazon is not a website that can do that.

      Another reason is that, and this is purely speculative, but as trends dictate what is on the bestseller list on Amazon, I believe that at times, these rankings are skewed. For example, books with more 'likes' can show up and any Tom, Dick, and Harry can click like. I have several smaller name prints who have actually emailed out people asking them to click 'like' so their book would appear in the bestseller list. That seems very skewed. The popular books will always stand out.

      Use your professional resources first, and bookseller websites second. Hope that answers your question!

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  2. Ok, fair enough. Thanks for the information. I will check out Edelweiss very soon!

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