Friends, librarians, fifth-grade teachers, lend me your eyes
May 18, 2014 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Librarians and school book buyers of Metafilter! When you are looking at an author's website, what kind of information do you want to see when deciding what books to stock?

This is more geared towards books for children, but I'm interested in answers relevant to all ages. What makes you more interested in buying a book? Are reviews relevant? Teacher's resources being made available?
posted by Jairus to Education (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't do a lot of book buying in my library position, but I would never go to an author's website with book buying in mind. It needs to be reviewed in the major reviewing sources to be on my radar (School Library Journal, Kirkus, Horn Book, Booklist). I usually only go to author websites if I have just read their book and want more info or am interested in them for a library visit (in person or virtual). It is useful to have an author bio, a list of books with accurate bibliographic info (sample pages or text would be useful), and information about school/library visits (how much you charge and where you will travel would be awesome). If you can generate interesting content regularly, a blog is also fun.
posted by wsquared at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

One term of art you might be interested in is "collection development." For example, if we search WorldCat for items with the phrase "collection development" and the word "children's" in the subject, we turn up about 234 items that might be of interest.

Looking through some of the results from that lists brings up items with other subjects that might be useful. See, e.g. Children's libraries -- Book selection. and Children -- Books and reading.
posted by GPF at 11:25 AM on May 18, 2014

Seconding wsquared. I don't use author websites to decide what books to purchase, and I can't imagine why I would. There are sooo many other sources I'd go to first - the review journals wsquared mentions are all good. I use Goodreads alerts for authors as well - if you have a blog, hook it up to Goodreads so I see all the updates.

With an author I already know about, it's really nice to have teacher resources available. I used to be a librarian who taught 25+ hours each week, so having some prepared stuff (discussion questions, curricular links, craft ideas) available on your website is nice. It might make me buy more of your books in the future, provided they're good; I don't think it would make me buy a book I'd never heard of.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:55 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would never go to an author's website with book buying in mind.

Ditto. The best thing a website could do from a library perspective is to link to reviews of the title from periodicals that the librarian has heard of. The thing I do go to author's websites for is to see things like

- blog stuff if I am interested in them as a reader of their stuff
- speaking engagements (calendar but also fees and whatnot)
- reviews of the author's public speaking
- lists of books in series (so like "What's the next book in the XYZ series?")
- photos of the author, just because I'm curious
posted by jessamyn at 3:48 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Used to teach in that age range. Sounds like you are working on an author's webpage... to be honest I rarely visit an author's page until I already have one of their books. And if you aren't in the literary canon, I might not buy at all. That said, I suppose I could be persuaded by good reviews and a sample chapter.
There is something of a children's literary canon - books that everyone sort of acknowledges as being the timeless age appropriate classics - that I would have as my baseline. If a reputable source positively compared your book to one of those ("a modern C.S. Lewis!") I could see that influencing me.
posted by jander03 at 4:36 PM on May 18, 2014

I work for a book distribution warehouse - we're the people who sell books to libraries. When I visit a publisher or author website, I'm usually looking for: an ISBN, a jpeg of the jacket, a one-sentence description of the book, or contact information. That's it. I am amazed at publisher/author sites that don't have that information.

In terms of the supply chain, if you make our lives easier, your titles are that much more discoverable by libraries.
posted by lyssabee at 5:45 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Coming late to this conversation, but I buy books for my school library, and I agree with everyone else about reviews, but I follow a lot of authors and illustrators on social media- especially Twitter and Instagram- and I most definitely make note when someone whose books I really enjoy post something about a new book- I still look for reviews on the books, but I have discovered books to buy this way. I also read a number of School Library Bloggers, and I also note books they talk about- again following up with checking reviews and also making sure they align to my collection development policy.

In terms of curriculum stuff- for use in the library, I like things that are open ended and encourage my students to create something of their own- a lot of what's out there on author's pages is glorified activity book material. The big push is alignment to Common Core Standards- I am not a fan, but many educators are and many author's websites include alignment to those standards.

I recently saw this author speak at a conference (and from listening to her I realized I had a ton of her books in my collection), and that prompted me to visit her webpage- which is pretty great:

And that brings up my last point- I am a member of a group that brings authors into low income schools in my area (my school included) and as I get to know the authors through my work (hosting them for visits and working with them as a board member) actually knowing them is one thing that makes me seek out their new work and check in on their blogs and social media sites.
posted by momochan at 6:44 AM on May 25, 2014

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