Take a look at a good number of the reviews that I’ve done over the past year. Look at the little line at the bottom of those reviews, the small print where I say, if applicable, that I got the book through NetGalley. That’s where I get nearly all of my review copies these days, and though sometimes my giant list of books to be reviewed through them is a little daunting at times, I am beyond glad that I discovered them.
It was thanks to YA author Kersten Hamilton that I first learned about them, back in the first year of running this book blog. On a whim, I signed up, half expecting to be turned down because I hadn’t been doing reviews for very long. But I was accepted, and could begin requesting books from the few publishers who had signed on for the ride at the time.
I admit it. I went a little nuts at first, requesting a copy of anything that looked even remotely interesting, even if it was something from a genre I might not normally read. I was high on the ability actually get free books from publishers, and it wasn’t the best approach to this incredible resource. My bad.
From its fairly humble beginnings, NetGalley has grown like a weed. A really valuable weed. There was a 500% increase in reviews on NetGalley between 2010 and 2011, which just goes to show that more people are paying attention. Tens of thousands of reviews for NetGalley books were published.
It surprised me, at first, to see so few blogs and bloggers jump on the bangwagon for this site. I think a little part of that was elitism. Now wait, before you get on my case for calling you elitist if you’re not a member of the site, let me clarify a little. I think with some of the bigger review blogs especially, they were already getting plenty of review copies from publishers, so why should they bother signing up for a resource that they didn’t need to take advantage of? And along the same vein, it was a site in which anyone and everyone could sign up for. Not all requests get approved, of course, but the vast majority are. Suddenly those who had previously been the privileged few to get review copies weren’t as alone, and I think some people were a little put out by that.
Not all. But some. I mean, if someone as piddly as me can get books from big name publishers, suddenly Awesome Blog Over There doesn’t seem quite so special anymore. I actually saw a couple of bloggers get a little butthurt at the sheer availability of books to the so-called undeserving, those who hadn’t worked as long as hard as they had to earn their review copies.
I’m seeing more and big big review sites talking about NetGalley these days, mentioning that they got their review copies from there, putting a blurb up about what they saw that they’re interested in, and it honestly amazes me that it took some of them this long to take advantage of this resource.
Why is it such an amazing resource? It’s a two-fold thing. First off, bloggers get access to books they might not otherwise have been able to read before. Finances, fame, familiarity, and other things that begin with F can conspire pretty well against a person sometimes. But with NetGalley, there’s a work of books just waiting for people to read and review them.
And thus it also helps the publishers and authors. The publishes loses nothing by making even some of their books available through NetGalley, and gains free — or at least inexpensive — publicity. No shipping charges, no having to make pitches at potential reviewers. Just a simple point-and-click interface that allows hundreds and thousands of people the chance to spread the word and help make the authors and publishers a little more money.
I can’t wait to see what happens to this site in the future. It’s been a godsend to me, has helped me find books that are amazing that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, and has done wonders to give me confidence about my reviews and my reading material. I love seeing other people using the site, and honestly, if you haven’t at least browsed around it to see what’s available, then what are you waiting for? Don’t let a good resource pass you by, not if it’s so easy to take advantage of.