2016-A Year in Review

Untitled Document

2016 A Year in Reviews
By: Lauren K. Lee, M.Ln., Senior Librarian


In Collection Development, we like to keep up with trends in reviewing as well as in publishing, so each year we analyze statistics that come from our journal indexing. Here were some of the interesting tidbits our team found when looking at the 2016 numbers:

•   LJ Prepub Alert is an obvious choice for those who like to order early, but Kirkus was a clear second, beating
    Publishers Weekly to the draw more often than not.

•   Kirkus is also the only one who has a second uptick well after publication. I wonder if that’s due to the way they
    have been reviewing Indie titles and e-books with previous print editions.

•   As much as we don’t want to believe it, there are still a significant number of titles being reviewed 6 months after
    publication. Booklist and LJ have a number large enough not to be discounted. Let’s hope they are nonfiction with a
    long content shelf life.

•   Almost all easy books get reviewed! This is the collection category that seems to get the most extensive coverage by the
    journals (94%!). Juvenile fiction comes next with 75%. Pity the poor adult nonfiction selectors who only have 15% of
    their titles reviewed. On second thought, don’t pity them—they know they have to go beyond reviews to find the best
    titles (yes, I confess to being an adult nonfiction selector).

So let’s talk about the role of journals in your selection process. If you were to guess how many of your initial orders came from a journal review, what would you say? 50%? 25%? 80%? Has that percentage changed over the years that you have been selecting? What sources do you rely on beyond reviews? I asked an adult fiction selector that question this week and she said, “my gut.” As one who leans to art rather than to science, I’m fine with that answer. Others may point to the media, or favorite blogs/websites/e-newsletters, or patron requests. Rarely do I hear “review copies.” Since I get to play in a vendor’s database regularly (Brodart’s), I like to look at titles based on how their sales are trending to public libraries. What’s hot this month that wasn’t last month? And how about those areas where reviews are few and far between, like board books, large print, and Spanish language?

In conclusion, we know that reviews play an important role, but they are not the be-all and end-all. Our customized TIPS profiling can take into consideration plenty of other factors, such as demand, print run, author, series, and publisher. The best profiles use creative combinations of all these. If you’re a TIPS subscriber, take a look at your profile summary and see if you should consider adding some new criteria. If you’re not, feel free to get in touch with TIPS@brodart.com.

See Full Journal Comparison here

Statistical Disclaimer: While our numbers based on reviews used “reviewed in 2016,” our numbers for titles published in various categories represent titles “published in 2016.” We recognize they are not the same thing, but feel they are close enough for general comparison.