Friday, August 7, 2015

Finding "Quiet" Books

When word of mouth fails, how do you find books? There's this perception, I think, among bloggers that when the marketing of a book dies down, we as fans will still remember the book and help push it onto newer readers, that we're a sort of last barrier before a book gets forgotten. And indeed we do try to push people to remember #QuietYA; Nick put together a catalog of #QuietYA recommendations from a bunch of bloggers (with recommendations from yours truly as well). But I can't help but wondering, sometimes, what happens to books when they are forgotten by bloggers.

What kind of scenarios lead to this? Well, here's an example. The above picture is a book haul from when I went to the Strand with a friend. I was doing my usual: gathering whichever books from the YA section interested me and then sitting down to read the first chapter or so, to see whether I liked the writing style, and whether that, in combination with the praise and synopsis, convinced me to buy the book. I ended up with these four books: The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh; The Returning by Christine Hinwood; Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox; and Mermaid in Chelsea Creek by Michelle Tea.

By all rights, books like these shouldn't be forgotten -- The Crowfield Curse was a Carnegie Medal nominee; The Returning was a Printz honor book blurbed by Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta; Mortal Fire was published in 2013! only two years ago!; Mermaid in Chelsea Creek was blurbed by Daniel Handler. Award winners/nominees and books championed by big name authors, and yet I had, until that day, never heard of or seen any of these books. (In fact, the only reason I picked up these books was because I either hadn't heard of them or because the spine interested me (e.g. The Returning looked like The Scorpio Races, so I took it off its shelf, saw the blurbs, read the synopsis, read the first few chapters, etc.)). Which got me thinking, too: what about the books that were published before Goodreads was established? Now that we have Goodreads, it's a lot easier to keep track of new releases, in my opinion. In the days before Goodreads, it was probably easier for a book to fall into the cracks, readers less aware of a publisher's catalog (though none of these books were published before the inception of Goodreads).

I also started wondering... well whose responsibility is it to keep that book in the limelight? Well, responsibility perhaps isn't the right word - that's obviously the publisher's job, and the publisher has moved onto newer, fresher releases. But well, then, how do you keep books from being forgotten? If I went into a Barnes & Noble, I'm pretty sure that I would not have found these books. If I looked online on B&N or Amazon, maybe I would've... if I had known to search for these books in the first place. So then is it really the used bookstore that keeps these books from falling away from the public eye altogether?

Do you ever search for books that haven't been published in the past couple of years? How do you find out about less publicized books? Have you ever found less publicized books without the aid of another blogger?

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