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May 2016

Welcome to readers of the Readers' Advisor Online blog.

Hello, all. I'm still trying to get caught up and regular posting will not resume here for a while, but I wanted to explain the posts that I published here last week. They are all posts from the Readers' Advisor Online blog, which I have co-written with Cindy Orr for the last nine years or so. ABC-CLIO, the sponsor of the blog, has decided to stop publishing it, and the site will no longer be available after June 30. We've written a lot of content in the last month about readers' advisory services and how to keep up with forthcoming title lists, so I thought I would archive those posts here for as long as I could! Those posts are:

Goodbye from all of us at the Readers' Advisor Online blog (Including a list of good reading-related websites to check for book news)

Using Feedly to watch for book and reading news

Cindy Orr's excellent and detailed How we compose the New, Noteworthy, and No-Brainer Lists

And our rallying cry for the importance of RA services, education, and training at A Parting Message: Pass It On!

Thanks for visiting. We're sad about losing the Readers' Advisor Online blog, of course, but here's to moving on to bigger and better things! Or maybe a nap. I haven't decided yet.

A Parting Message: Pass It On! (Originally posted at the Readers' Advisor Online blog.)

Hi everyone, Since this is our last day for the blog (see here if you didn't get the word before), I'm going to take advantage of the bully pulpit to air my opinion, for what it's worth, about the state of Readers' Advisory service now and in the future. Frankly, I'm worried, guys. Follow along with me for a minute:

  • Surveys show that people believe that books are the library's brand.
  • Readers often have trouble finding good books to read. If you don't believe that's important, ponder why Amazon paid big bucks for Goodreads and iBooks did the same for BookLamp, two recommendation services.
  • Librarians should be THE experts on helping library patrons find just the right books to read. After all, that's our brand.
  • Suggesting good books to read is not just a knack that some people have. Readers' advisory skills can absolutely be taught.


  • Many library schools don't even offer classes in readers' advisory service.
  • Those that do usually use adjunct professors---practitioners like you---to teach the courses.
  • Tenure track library school professors have largely ignored the entire field. This includes reading research, which is usually done in other departments of the university, and is producing some really exciting finds about what reading does to the brain.
  • Many of the best known library readers' advisors are retired now, or are approaching retirement age.
  • We definitely need younger librarians who will take the RA baton and carry it into the future.

The problem is not that there are not great readers' advisors out there. I know there are. You know there are. They're you. I've run into hundreds of you and have been impressed with your knowledge. But it seems like the same people are tapped to speak, write articles, and teach. If we want to keep the service going, we really need a wider range of librarians to step up and share their expertise publicly. And we really, really need library schools to step up and teach the subject. Since that hasn't happened---in fact, most of the professors who used to teach the subject are also retired---I have a suggestion for a solution. If library directors across the nation would get together and sign a petition to library school deans demanding that they research, publish, and teach this topic to their students, because these are skills librarians need in order to be hired, I hope that it would make a difference. (I'm probably naive to suggest this. Oh well.) And, in the meantime, we practitioners need to continue to carry the torch. Please find some RA knowledge that you can share. You know you have the expertise. You just need a little courage. Here are some suggestions, but just share in whatever way makes you happy:

  • Do whatever you can to make sure your own library is dedicated to reader services at all levels, including learning to read and serving all ages and demographic groups of readers.
  • Use your personal power to make sure RA training happens in your library, even if you have to do it yourself---even if you don't think you are an expert. The best way to learn a subject is to teach it. ABC-CLIO's Genreflecting, Real Stories, and other series are great resources for genre and RA knowledge. NoveList has great training materials to get you started.
  • Propose RA programs to your state organization's conferences.
  • Write articles on the subject. The Library Writer's Blog might help you find an outlet for your pieces.
  • Start an RA blog, either at your library or by yourself, or with friends.
  • Propose a course to your local library school if they don't already offer it.
  • Even if your local library school offers an RA class, propose an additional one with a different slant. These classes fill up, and adjunct professors are extremely cheap, so it's in the school's interests to offer them. The going rate, just so you know, is around $5,000 for a class, which is a lot of money for most practitioners, but incredibly cost effective for a university. If you don't have a local library school, many schools offer their subjects online, so you could teach remotely.
  • Network. Find other librarians who are passionate about RA and correspond regularly. There's Fiction_L, of course, and the community built around Early Word, but there are other places too. ALA has a committee---RUSA's RA Research and Trends Committee. Volunteer to serve. You have to join RUSA, but this committee does its work remotely, so you wouldn't have to travel. Or you could volunteer to serve on an awards committee like Notable Books or The Reading List, or many others.
  • Support other RA librarians. Some have blogs, like Lesa Holstine's Book Critiques, Sarah Johnson's Reading the Past, Becky Spratford's RA for All and RA for All: Horror, Citizen Reader, the nonfiction blog by Sarah Statz Cords, Megan McArdle's Genrify, and Nancy Pearl, just to mention a few.
  • Keep track of what other libraries are doing. Here are just a few great library blogs: Shelf Talk, Blogging for a Good Book, Biblio File.
  • Follow the industry sources that support RA, like Booklist, Library Journal, the RUSA Quarterly, and ALA Publishing's and Libraries Unlimited's RA series of books.
  • I know this seems like a lot to keep up with, but you can use an RSS feed aggregator to make it easier. It's not difficult at all. Here's how to use Feedly, for instance. And, honestly, since not so much has been written about the subject, this is one area where you could conceivably read everything there is and be a real expert.
  • So please pass it on, folks! We really do need your expertise! Cindy P.S. This site will be gone soon, so if you are interested in keeping any of the content, you'll need to copy it right now. A few of our last posts will live on at Sarah Statz Cords's blog Citizen Reader (check tomorrow for direct links), but this blog will be unavailable after June 30.

Originally published at the Readers' Advisor Online blog, May 15, 2016:

How we compose the New, Noteworthy, and No-Brainer Lists (post from Readers' Advisor Online).

We were very sad to announce, a couple of weeks ago now, that as of May 16, we will no longer be publishing the Readers' Advisor Online blog.

In light of this news, someone asked in the comments for tips on how we compile the weekly New, Noteworthy, and No-Brainer forthcoming fiction and nonfiction title lists. This was an excellent question, and we're glad to let you behind the curtain to see how we do that. (And please note: most of this information comes from the true mastermind behind these lists: Cindy Orr.)

First: Get your magic wand. Second: Wave it over the computer. Third: Shout, "Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo, new titles, list yourself out, do!"

I know. How great would that be? Unfortunately there is no magical secret to compiling these lists. It's not really hard work, but it is time-consuming. There's a bit more to it than this, but the general idea is that we check these sources for lists of forthcoming titles:

Publishers' Weekly On-Sale Calendar - This site has both an adult and children's version, and lists books that have at least a 50,000 copy print run. Keep checking back, as they tend to update several months at a time.

LJ PrePub Alert - Definitely worth subscribing to. The great Barbara Hoffert updates her column every week with noteworthy and hot books that will be published in about six months. She also annotates each title to tell you why she's including it. Sample column here.

Barnes and Noble "Coming Soon" Books page - Barnes and Noble's Coming Soon is very handy because they list the books of each week and those sorted first are the top sellers.

Amazon Advanced Search - Choose the following - Condition: New; Format: Hardcover; Language: English; Pub Date: During, then choose your month and year; Sort Books By: Bestselling. This won't get you everything because they only allow one format choice at a time, but Hardcover is probably the best bet. When you search Paperback it doesn't discern between reprints and originals.

Bookreporter's "Coming Soon" - A monthly list from a bookseller's point of view.

IndieNext - Handpicked titles from independent booksellers. They also have free shelftalkers that you can print out and use.

Edelweiss - A site all librarians should know about. Here you can request free digital Advanced Reading Copies and vote for the Library Reads Picks, but it also serves as a place where publishers' catalogs are posted. Join (it's free), (be sure to pick Library as your organization type). Log in. Then use Advanced Search. Choose Publication Date: Frontlist; Publisher: Use the CTRL key to select the publishers you want to search. (Do at minimum the Big Five: Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins, but you'll see many more that you'll want to include.) Press Advanced Search, and when the titles come up, choose Filter and then Publication Date and choose the month you're interested in.

These are all free sources, so if you want to keep a comprehensive list going of forthcoming titles, it's largely a matter of checking those sources and dumping the titles into a blog, Word document, spreadsheet, or any other way you may want to keep track. And if this is all too much for you, you might subscribe to Early Word's less comprehensive, but still useful feature Titles to Know and Recommend.

Questions? Do you have any favorite sources for learning about forthcoming titles? Let us know in the comments!

(Originally posted at the Readers' Advisor Online blog, May 10, 2016.

Using Feedly to watch for book and reading news (orginally posted at the Readers' Advisor Online blog).

Last week we made the announcement that the Readers' Advisor Online blog will cease publication as of May 15. Please read the full announcement here.

We of course are very sad about this turn of events, but now is the time to look forward by looking back to consider some of the ways we compiled this blog. One of my favorite tools to use is the RSS reader/aggregator Feedly: a service which allows you to subscribe to various websites and blogs and their feeds, and to scan a lot of online article headlines at once.

Perhaps the best way to learn Feedly is the same way I have learned to do any number of small home improvement projects: by watching a YouTube video!* I like this one: Productivity Tuesday: Feedly RSS Reader.

The basic idea is, you find blogs and websites that often have a lot of good reading and book and publishing headlines, you start a Feedly account, and then, within Feedly, you subscribe to those news sources. Then, every day, you can just go to Feedly and quickly skim all the news headlines from your favorite blogs and websites. If a headline catches your eye, just click on it, and you'll go directly to the article in question. Very handy! If you're looking for blogs and websites to get you started, please consider the list of pages that we provided in our goodbye post. Those are some of our most useful sites for all the latest reading news.

So: go forth and Feedly! A full disclosure here: I am terrible at using technology and technological tools (this is Sarah talking, not Cindy--Cindy's way more on top of tech than I am), and I LOVE Feedly. It's easy to use and super helpful. So do give it a try, and let us know in the comments if you have questions or another service that you use to keep on top of Internet news.

*Thank you, YouTube, for teaching me how to cut carpet tiles to fit uneven walls. I am forever grateful.

Originally posted at the Readers' Advisor Online blog, May 4, 2016.

Goodbye from all of us at the Readers' Advisor Online blog (post from the Readers' Advisor Online blog).

“Erica Jong: When Male Authors Write about Love They Are Praised; When Women Do the Same, They Risk Being Ghettoized”

So opened our Readers’ Advisory Online blog on June 22, 2007. That was not actually our first post—we changed blogging platforms early in our history and lost some of our first posts—but this is one of the earliest posts we have archived. And it’s a doozy; fascinating (if disappointing) to see that discussions about gender and authorship were raging long before the VIDA Count ever started putting hard-and-fast numbers on the phenomenon of women’s voices not being well-represented in modern literature. And of course such discussions were everywhere before 2007. Every day that passes makes all of our discussions, book and otherwise, part of one big cultural archaeological dig.

But why are we waxing nostalgic today? Well, because it is time to announce that as of May 15, 2016, ABC-CLIO will no longer be sponsoring or publishing the Readers’ Advisor Online blog. The reasons for this decision are many, and include but are not limited to variables such as time and resources, but in the end what Cindy and I want to express most can be mostly expressed in two words: Thank you.

Thank you to publishers ABC-CLIO and Libraries Unlimited, supporting us and RA workers for so many years. These publishers have created some of the very best readers’ advisory and library reference tools in the market, and their dedication to publishing this blog and resource for nearly a decade is inspiring in an online world where blogs often come and go in a matter of months.

Thank you to the many librarians, writers, and readers who wrote for us—from articles about reading trends, to conference reports, to comments and other articles that made our blog stronger.

And thank you, THANK YOU, to our many readers, out there perusing our weekly “RA Run Downs” and our “New, Noteworthy, and No-Brainer” forthcoming title lists. For years now we have labored with you—the advisors, the librarians, the booksellers, the library pages, the masters’ degree students, the teachers, the readers—to find the best reading headlines, the most exciting news about new titles, the most timely conference and professional development reports. And we felt great about it, because we know that you took our posts and used them to help your colleagues, patrons, and friends and family members to find out more about what they wanted to read, listen to, and watch. It has been, believe us, our very great pleasure.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to say that now there is an opportunity for someone else—perhaps RUSA, perhaps a library, or maybe even any number of personal bloggers—to publish a similar resource. At the end of this article, we will list a number of other websites and resources that we use to write this blog, in the hopes that others will somehow carry on this work. Because we know our audience, and we know that you are all people who in some way or another have chosen professions that are all about helping others, particularly to knowledge. We know that many of you will, in one way or another, step up to offer great reading resources to others.

Thank you all for a great run! Cindy Orr and Sarah Statz Cords

Suggested resources:

Cindy Orr published the title Crash Course in Readers’ Advisory at the end of 2014, and you would be hard pressed to find a more valuable resource on the subject. In addition to taking you through the nuts and bolts of advising readers, she provides a wealth of information and lists of resources where readers and librarians can look to increase their title awareness and overall knowledge of readers and reading material. Libraries Unlimited continues to publish titles in its definitive Genreflecting series. In addition to the most recent edition of Genreflecting (the 7th), which provides an overview of genres, representative titles in those genres, and lists of suggested titles and read-alikes, you may wish to check out such titles as Michael Pawuk’s and David Serchay’s forthcoming Graphic Novels II and Susan Fichtelberg’s second edition of Encountering Enchantment: A Guide to Speculative Fiction for Teens.

We will be publishing the RA Run Down and the New and Noteworthy lists until May 15. But please do also check out these blogs that we often consult. And do you have favorite blogs or online news sources for reading and title awareness news? Please let us know about them in the comments!

Citizen Reader,

Comic Book Resources,

Digital Book World,


Fiction-L, a listserv for all librarians and readers’ advisors in particular,

A Library Writer’s Blog,

Publishing Perspectives,

RA for All,

Reading the Past,

Shelf Awareness,


Originally published at the Readers' Advisor Online blog, April 29th, 2016.