I should maybe title this post "What I haven't learned from ordering" because after nine months, fiction remains (ahem) a closed book to me.
select non-mystery fiction by authors whose last names begin with the
letters M through Z. Here are the first 24 titles I ordered for my
first thing to note is that James Patterson, Debbie Macomber, Danielle
Steel, etc. are all absent from this list. We have a standing order
arrangement with our book vendor where we provide them a list of authors
to auto-order: For example, if Danielle Steel publishes anything, send
us two copies and bill us for them.
am so, so grateful for that arrangement. As a result, I'm allowed to
devote all my fiction ordering time to identifying debut novels or ones
by lesser-known authors that might do well at my library, rather than
manually checking for all the big names to make sure that if they have
anything new I haven't overlooked it. Having that extra time has been
really valuable. The only downside, I think, is that it encourages me to
over-order the more obscure stuff, because I get a falsely low sense of
how much new fiction we are getting. On the flip side, it might
encourage someone who didn't enjoy ordering as much as I do to
under-order, since things continue to come in even if you neglect the
Overall, I'm happy with how I did considering I'm a beginner. I only had a handful of things I consider flops:
Tuesday Nights in 1980
Sport of Kings
I also had a few things that kind of took off, at least by the standards of non auto-order titles:
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
I Let You Go
Barkskins isn't a huge surprise, since it's by Annie Prolux (when I did my annual review of the auto-order list, I added her to it). Similarly, Curious Charms, although it's a debut novel, got a ton of buzz in popular review sources and was so clearly designed to be the next Mr. Pettigrew's Last Stand that I knew it would be a hit.
Interestingly, The Assistants by Camille Perri and I Let You Go by
Claire Mackintosh are the only two titles out of everything I ordered
that I actually read. In both cases I was on the fence about whether or
not to order them so I got a hold of advance reader's copies to evaluate
them myself. I enjoyed The Assistants a lot, and suspect that
two of its checkouts are a direct result of me 'hand-selling' it to a
patron who asked for book recommendations--she checked it out and then, I
think, suggested a friend borrow it when she returned it. I wouldn't
have thought of it as I suggestion if I hadn't read it myself. On the
other hand, I thought that I Let You Go was awful, but when reading it I noticed how much it resembled what people said they liked about The Girl on the Train so I decided to buy it thinking it would be marketed as a read-alike, or that I could suggest it as one.
actually reading the things I ordered did pay off. However, I did that
on my own time, not at work, and I have mixed feelings about that from
an ethical perspective. I see why my employer wouldn't want to pay for
me to just sit at my desk and read, but at the same time, I didn't even
enjoy I Let You Go, and I wouldn't have picked it up if I weren't
considering it for a work purpose. Maybe the solution is to try to get
my hands on more digital-format advanced reader's copies and read during
lulls on the desk--that way I'm using work time, but only time that
would otherwise be unproductive.
definitely still a lot that I don't get about fiction. Why did my flops
flop? I see that my patron base prefers realistic fiction so I now
understand why some of the sci-fi/fantasy selections didn't go over as
well, but two out of my three lowest-circulating choices were realistic
fiction. Also, how good does something have to do to be considered a
success? Should it have to circulate as much as a Patterson? Could I
hand-sell anything I had read to make it as popular as The Assistants turned out to be?
Many questions remain.
If you want to read about arts and recreation or about philosophy and psychology, check out my posts on the 700s and the 100s respectively.