Angela Bole to Succeed Fran Toolan at the Firebrand Group

Angela Bole, current CEO of Independent Book Publishers Association

(Manhattan Beach, CA & Newburyport, MA – June 9, 2022) – The Firebrand Group (firebrandtech.com), the book industry’s leading technology company for cutting edge software and services that enable publisher success, announced today that Angela Bole, current CEO at the Independent Book Publishers Association (ibpa-online.org), will succeed Firebrand CEO Fran Toolan on February 1, 2023. Toolan, who founded Firebrand as Quality Solutions, Inc. in 1987, passes the reins to Bole after 35 years as the company’s sole CEO. He will remain on the Firebrand Group Board of Directors post transition. 

Today, the Firebrand Group includes Firebrand Technologies, NetGalley, and Supadu.  Firebrand Technologies Title Management Enterprise Software and Eloquence on Demand service headline a group of technologies that help publishers track and manage titles from pre-acquisition through their long tail of sales. NetGalley helps provide excitement about titles by connecting eBook and audio content with reviewers. And the newest addition to the Firebrand family of services, Supadu, is the leading provider of publisher e-commerce solutions in the US and UK. 

Upon launching Firebrand Technologies, Toolan understood that the publishing industry was a unique and creative business that needed efficient tools and workflow processes to thrive and be profitable. “These tools must accentuate the creativity in publishing,” he said at the time, “not hinder it.”  

Fran Toolan, current CEO of the Firebrand Group

In February 2021, Firebrand was acquired by Media Do International (MD-i), the US-based subsidiary of Japan’s Media Do Co., Ltd, one of the largest ebook distribution companies in the world retaining the largest share of Japan’s $4.5 billion eBook market.  

“With the support of MD-i, the Firebrand Group is growing and innovating at an unparalleled rate of speed,” said Toolan. “The opportunities in front of us are very exciting, and I’m equally excited that Angela will be here to guide us going forward.” 

Said Daihei Shiohama, CEO of MD-i: “Both here and in Japan, we are so excited to have Angela succeed Fran. We are determined to provide utmost support to Firebrand Group with Angela as new CEO. With the annual growth rate of close to 20% in Japan’s digital publishing market where NFT, XR, and other diversified elements stimulate the publishing industry, we are convinced that Angela will lead the group to uplift the global publishing industry’s expansion.” 

Bole, a 2019 Publishers Weekly notable person of the year, began her career at an independent bookstore in Jackson, WY before moving to NYC in 2005 to pursue a Masters in book publishing from New York University. While in NYC, she held various positions with the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)–including a stint as interim executive director–where she spearheaded research into consumer attitudes toward ebook reading, oversaw initiatives supporting the industry’s transition to ISBN-13, and developed best practices and other documentation for use of the ONIX and EPUB standards. Bole served as treasurer of the International Digital Publishers Forum (IDPF) from 2011 to 2014, before moving to Manhattan Beach, CA to become ED and later CEO of IBPA, where she has stabilized and grown operations for the past nine years. 

“During her years leading IBPA, Angela has transformed the organization into the leading association for advocating and supporting the growing community of independent publishers,” said current IBPA Board Chair Karla Olson (Director, Patagonia Books). “During the last two challenging years in particular, Angela made certain IBPA provided innovative and essential member support and increased efforts to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion within all aspects of the association. IBPA will be forever grateful to Angela for her leadership, her vision, and her passion for publishing.” 

Bole officially assumes the position of Firebrand Group CEO on February 1, 2023. When asked what she hopes to achieve, she said, “Firebrand has been powering the publishing industry for over 30 years through quality software solutions and a dedicated and committed staff. Given all we’ve learned over the past few years, I hope to build upon what’s already working to enable even more efficiencies for the companies Firebrand serves. I know this will be a team effort; I couldn’t be more excited to join and lead the team.” 

About the Firebrand Group
The Firebrand Group, consisting of Firebrand Technologies, NetGalley, and Supadu, provides leading software and services to help publishers achieve success. The Firebrand Group is owned by Media Do International (MD-i), the US-based subsidiary of Japan’s Media Do Co., Ltd, one of the largest ebook distribution companies in the world retaining the largest share of Japan’s ebook market. For more information, visit firebrandtech.com. For more information on Media Do’s services and corporate divisions, visit mediado.jp/english. The Firebrand Group’s bi-annual Community Conference shall be held in September this year in Baltimore, MD. For more information, please visit firebrandtech.com/conference.

About the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
Founded in 1983 to support independent publishers nationwide, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) leads and serves the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. With over 4,000 members, IBPA is the largest publishing association in the U.S. Its vision is a world where every independent publisher has the access, knowledge, and tools needed to professionally engage in all aspects of an inclusive publishing industry. For more information, visit ibpa-online.org

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Sessions Announced! Firebrand Group Community Conference

Join us for a very special opportunity to connect with the NetGalley team and your peers from across the publishing industry!

We are thrilled to announce some of the sessions that will be presented at the Firebrand Group Community Conference, September 26- 28 in Baltimore! Experts from across the publishing industry will be speaking about topics critical to your work. This track is dedicated to book marketers and publicists, including NetGalley users, and is specifically designed to help you connect with your audience.

Building & Scaling Influencer Programs Effectively: TikTok, Instagram, & More

Presented by: Emily Lyman, CEO & Founder, Branch & Bramble

Activating social media influencers is one of the fastest and most effective marketing tools to drive awareness—but it can also be one of the most time consuming and challenging. This session will focus on the tactical elements of building influencer programs based on individual titles as well as entire genres across TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Learn how to scale collaborations and maximize budgets with long-term partnership advice, negotiation tactics, and efficiency ideas.

Insights Into Action: The Making of a Bestseller

Presented by: Andrea DeWerd, Senior Marketing Director at Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins

The Harvest lifestyle marketing team at HarperCollins has adopted a unique MarTech stack to streamline and scale campaigns in a traditionally very old-fashioned industry. Please join us for this session with Senior Marketing Director Andrea DeWerd and learn how this team adopted new technology to launch a New York Times bestseller and leads the organization in marketing experimentation driven by audience insights and data synthesis.

Key Takeaways:

  • Becoming a data-informed marketing organization
  • Soliciting buy-in for new technology at every level of the organization
  • Creating a culture of teaching, training, and learning for new tech adoption
  • The path to a New York Times bestselling cookbook

Finding Your Audience/Growing Your Community

Presented by Tarah Theoret,  Senior Director, Community Experience, and Kelly Gallucci, Executive Editor, We Are Bookish

Join the NetGalley Member Experience team to learn how targeted acquisition efforts can help expand your audience. This session will explore using data (from NetGalley as well as external sources like Google Analytics, social media platforms, & newsletter subscribers) to identify product/brand champions and inform your community engagement and retention strategies. 

Discussion: Maintaining Momentum Beyond the Pub Date

Book publishers know that they have a wealth of IP in their backlist, but what is the most effective way to mine it? In this session, we will explore creative ways to surface the most relevant backlist titles of the moment, in order to drive their momentum when the time is right. For this group discussion, we hope attendees will come ready to share their concerns, ideas, and successes!

NetGalley 101 

Rediscover the roots of your NetGalley publisher account! Kristina Radke, VP of Business Growth & Engagement, will guide you through each important moment of a book’s life on NetGalley. We’ll cover everything from creating new titles, setting Availability, incorporating the Widget in your day-to-day efforts, managing requests, building your Auto-Approved List, as well as looking at and using the robust reports available to you. 

NetGalley Promotions Overview

Learn how publishers use NetGalley Promotions to launch their frontlist and leverage their backlist to reach trade professionals and early influencers, generate reviews, run giveaways, collect pre-orders, advertise around the pub date, and connect directly with their audience. With advertising options for every budget, goal, and type of book, NetGalley’s popular programs are highly valued for their strong engagement rates—delivering outstanding results while remaining at a competitive price. 

More sessions will be announced as they are finalized! While you wait, be sure to talk to your colleagues about attending the Firebrand Group Community Conference. Each track focuses on different aspects of the publishing process.

  • Connect the Dots with Data | Sessions for data analysts, business ops, and marketing teams, including Eloquence on Alert and NetGalley users.

Register today to ensure your space and take advantage of the Early Bird Discount rate! A Group Discount is available for multiple team members attending from one company. Please email us for details.

NetGalley is a member of the Firebrand Group, which provides leading software and services to help publishers achieve success. In addition to sessions geared toward marketers and publicists who use NetGalley, the Firebrand Group Community Conference will include tracks dedicated to users of Firebrand’s Title Management and Eloquence services, as well as Supadu’s website and ecommerce solutions.

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Sustainability – a challenge for all.

At the 2022 London Book Fair there were four separate sessions devoted to sustainability in the industry, making it one of LBF’s most debated topics. At the start of the second panel discussion, Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, summed up the common theme that bound them all: “We want our industry to be around for as long as possible,” he said. “This is clearly the challenge of our time.” The question is, how do we all rise to meet it?

Open book with a tree growing from its pages

The answer, as those LBF panels attested, is complex, and comprises a huge range of potential initiatives and strategies. The one thing that everyone seems to agree on, however, is the importance of taking action now. As EJ Hurst and Julie Raddysh from New Society Publishers said in a recent interview, “It is imperative. Business will only thrive on a stable, healthy planet”.

Where once sustainability might have been primarily a moral or ethical consideration, or something multinationals might add to their Corporate Social Responsibility statements, it is now a commercial imperative too: consumers are demanding ‘greener’ products, just as much as environmental groups are urging root-and-branch changes to the way products are made and distributed. This means sustainability is no longer something to be deferred: everyone, from boutique house to corporate monolith, is implicated and impacted.

In software company knk’s Publishing and Sustainability 2022 whitepaper, two key areas of concern were identified: one, the polluting nature of physical book fulfilment; and two, the problem of power consumption from data centres. While the latter can be mitigated by using providers who provide more renewable energy and better systems, industry responses to how best to print, store and ship books will come to define how sustainable the publishing world really can be.

There are many disparate factors that need to be addressed here – from paper stock to print on demand; from where books are printed to more effective warehousing and distribution channels – but for many, the decisions taken on a daily basis are the ones which will ultimately shape the future. One of the most important of these is pre- and post-publication reading copies.

Exact figures are hard to come by, but, were publishers in the UK and US to produce the same number of physical ARCs as they made digital copies available on NetGalley, this would equate to around 3 million books*, the vast majority of which are packaged and mailed to individuals around the world. Notwithstanding the huge cost of printing, then sending these books, the ‘book miles’—the environmental impact of their shipping—accrued by this strategy are staggering. Reducing the number of ARCs produced and sent is a quick and easy way to increase sustainability—but at the same time, it requires a mindset shift from all stakeholders in the process. Publishers must reiterate to influencers that physical ARCs are not the norm, while authors will have to understand why only a small number of ARCs are being printed. Influencers might need to accept that they need to read at least some of a book digitally before requesting a physical ARC, while publicists might have to change the decades old practice of stuffing envelopes with books and press releases. It is a small part of the puzzle, but one that will reap huge benefits if taken seriously by all players.

*Total number of digital review copies approved on NetGalley.com and NetGalley.co.uk from March 2020 to February 2021

A former bookseller, editor and marketer, Stuart Evers is Director of NetGalley UK. He is also an award-winning writer of short fiction and novels. 



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How to Stay Informed and Push Back Against Book Bans

Originally Posted on We Are Bookish.
Visit We Are Bookish for more Bookish Lifestyle content!

Book bans and attempts at censorship are currently spreading across the U.S. and are disproportionately impacting diverse titles and authors from historically marginalized communities. Both as publishing professionals and as readers ourselves, the NetGalley team stands against book banning and wants to ensure our members have tools at their disposal to fight back against censorship in their communities. Book banning touches every member of the NetGalley community from library workers and educators to authors and readers, and all can use these tips to work together to protect intellectual freedom.

Listen to those most affected
The impact of a book ban is far-reaching and touches different communities in unique ways. It’s important to listen to those affected in order to put your own efforts towards making a positive change. 

Although not exhaustive, here’s a short list of places to start listening and learning: The Stacks Podcast has an excellent series of interviews—featuring authors, students, educators, politicians, and booksellers—that explore everything about book banning from a legal standpoint to activism. Former librarian Kelly Jensen’s coverage of the ongoing bans is incredibly informative and packed with resources and action items. Penguin Young Readers put together this document of resources for educators and library workers.

Request books from your library
If you see certain books or authors missing from your branch’s shelves, ask your local librarian about submitting a request for the library to acquire them. This not only helps put those books on your library’s shelves, but it’s a trackable measurement of community interest that library workers can use if a certain book is challenged.

Show up
Find out when your local city council, library board, and school board meetings are being held. Attending these meetings allows you to stay informed and gives you the opportunity to not only speak out against book bans but to voice support for the library workers, educators, and politicians in your community who are working to protect intellectual freedom. Your voice can be a source of much-needed support to those who are pushing back against censorship.

As you begin to attend meetings, you may find yourself wanting to take an even more active role. Consider joining your town’s council, library, or school board.

Vote
In the upcoming elections, use your vote to support candidates who are actively working against censorship. Pay close attention to local elections, which have a major impact on your community. If you notice that a candidate doesn’t have information available regarding their stance, ask!

Keep your community informed
Chances are that your friends, family, and coworkers care about these issues as much as you do. Invite them to attend board meetings with you, or if they can’t attend, update them on what you learned. Talk together about candidates you think will make a difference in the community and make a plan to go vote together.

Follow and support those making a difference
Whenever you find yourself frustrated and wanting to help make a change, first look to those who have already been hard at work making a difference. Organizations such as the National Coalition Against Censorship have valuable resources for readers, library workers, educators, and students to use when facing censorship in their community.

You can also look to organizations such as We Need Diverse Books, a non-profit that advocates for inclusive changes to the publishing industry. They’re currently offering grants to educators who need financial support for diverse literature programs, as well as those impacted by COVID. You can donate to support those here.

Donors Choose allows you to help specific educators in need. Teachers share what their classrooms and children require—including many requests for donations that will go towards stocking classroom libraries.

These tips are just a starting place—help us share more!

What advice do you have to help stop book banning in your community?

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George Slowik, Jr. on the 150th Anniversary of Publishers Weekly

BookSmarts Podcast

Get smarter about your books! The BookSmarts podcast features discussions about publishing data and technologies and interviews with industry experts, deep thinkers, and doers, bringing you insights that will help you sell more books.

Episode 22: George Slowik, Jr. on the 150th Anniversary of Publishers Weekly

In this episode of the BookSmarts Podcast, Joshua interviews George Slowik, Jr., the Chairman and Owner of PWxyz LLC, the parent company of Publishers Weekly, who joins us to discuss the magazine’s history, the digital archive, and more.

Transcript available here.

Publishers Weekly was launched in 1872 as a bibliographic source for all publishers to list forthcoming titles. Over its 150 year history, the magazine has continued to provide news and features about the publishing industry, and has even expanded to provide over 9,000 new book reviews every year.

George gives a brief overview of the magazine’s history, discusses the development of the digital archive, the special anniversary edition to be released in April, and his thoughts about the future of publishing. 
You can learn more about Publishers Weekly and sign up for their free email newsletters, at their website, https://www.publishersweekly.com/.

Joshua Tallent is an acclaimed teacher and guide on the role of data in publishing, and a vocal advocate for high quality book metadata. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys playing complex board games, playing Minecraft, and fiddling with his 3D printer.

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Takeaways and Trends from 2021

We’ve all learned a lot over the past couple of years, and 2021 has taught us some especially interesting things. Here are a few takeaways and trends from 2021 that we’ll carry with us as we continue to grow, evolve, and serve the book publishing industry!

Book publishing is in a period of renewal

Often, the things that challenge us the most also create great opportunities. The world has nearly two years of this pandemic behind it, and many publishers have seen surprising gains as consumers turn to books to fill their hours at home. On the BookSmarts podcast, Michael Cader, Founder of Publishers Lunch and PublishersMarketplace.com had this to say about additional opportunities the industry has at this moment:

“As we go through this COVID transition [we] redefine what work looks like and how work becomes meaningful….In the pandemic, people stopped going to book fairs and they stopped touring authors, and a lot of them stopped sending out [printed] galleys, and cut back on marketing expenses and did all kinds of things, some out of necessity, some because those things just didn’t exist, and some for ease, and some because they wanted to conserve. So, there’s this really interesting chance to rethink: Where are we spending our dollars? How are we spending those dollars consciously? And what’s driving ROI?

“There’s an interesting opportunity to rethink every role within the organization. What have people actually done during COVID, when they’ve been working with less direct supervision more on their own at home? And how has that worked well? And how can we enfranchise people to keep doing more of that, and less of what they didn’t like doing? 

It’s this really interesting reset moment. The good news is that publishing is coming at it from a position of strength.

– Michael Cader, Founder of Publishers Lunch and PublishersMarketplace.com

“We’re also in this interesting moment of the industry finally reckoning with diversity in a more meaningful way. Part of diversity means having an industry that’s not just centered in New York. Only certain types of people can afford to live and work in New York, and New York has all sorts of different people and viewpoints in it, but it’s not the nation at large. 

“I think writ large it’s this really interesting reset moment. The good news is that publishing is coming at it from a position of strength… the sales are there, the readers are there. The retail channels have been resilient… So there’s a really strong foundation to build from. So, where people go from there, I think will determine a lot of what the trajectory of the business looks like, over the next few years.”

Listen to Michael Cader on the BookSmarts podcast.

Book discovery is context agnostic

We know that NetGalley is just one of many ways that readers discover books. According to our 2021 NetGalley Member Survey, Goodreads, Friends/Peers, and Amazon also top their list for finding new books. For audio listeners, the library is also a very important means of discovery.

In the Panorama Project’s Immersive Media & Reading Consumer Survey, Dr. Kathi Inman Berens (Associate Professor of Book Publishing and Digital Humanities, at Portland State University) and Dr. Rachel Noorda (Director of Book Publishing and Assistant Professor in English) conducted a consumer behavior study focused on how book discovery works and how libraries fit into the book discovery ecosystem. In April, they spoke about their work on the BookSmarts podcast.

Dr. Berens notes, “In roughly equal numbers, people find a book online and then buy it in a bookstore, or discover a book in a bookstore and then buy it online. It’s actually far more fluid than just looking at sales data would suggest.

“The diversity of ways that people discover books suggests that there’s no one formula for discovery. We do know that people have multiple touch points… We also know that people are largely unaware of how metadata works, how algorithms and recommendation algorithms work. So a question that would be super hard to capture in self-report data would be: How many times did you encounter this book before you finally decided to open your wallet? Or you finally decided to check it out from the library? That’s hard for consumers to be aware of.”

Immersive Media & Books: Consumer Behavior and Experience with Multiple Media Forms, Portland State University 2021, Published by Panorama Project

Dr. Norda adds, “Our study was a cross-media one, and what we found is that avid readers are also avid media consumers in other categories. They’re gaming, they’re watching TV and movies. And there is a really high discovery rate cross-media. About 60% of people are going from engaging with a book to then finding a new TV series, or movie, or game. 61% are going from TV or movie to then finding a book or a game. Games was the lowest [category for cross-media discovery]—but still, about a third, 33% [are] engaging with a game and then finding other media like a book or TV/movies. Cross-discovery is something I don’t think we engage enough with in the industry, to think about readers as cross media consumers.”

Listen to Dr. Norda and Dr. Berens on the BookSmarts podcast!

Data is only as useful as its context

We at NetGalley firmly believe in giving publishers access to their data about NetGalley activity. Information like early impressions, numbers of requests and, of course, the Reviews and Feedback they receive give marketers and publicists the tools they need to analyze the effectiveness of their strategies. This early data helps build context for not only their NetGalley efforts, but their work as a whole. (Have you read our article, The Importance of Early Data?)

Earlier this year, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Content Officer at LibraryPass spoke with the BookSmarts podcast, saying, “My issue with ‘data-driven’ is [that] it’s become kind of a buzzword that’s lost its original meaning. I compare it to the early days of GPS, where if you’re not paying attention, GPS will drive you off a cliff.

“Data is only as useful as the context you’re pulling it into, and the other insights you bring to it. Otherwise it can cause you to make some rather myopic decisions. [If] you’re getting all this sales data that says, 70% of our sales are from Amazon, a data-driven approach might say, ‘All right, we’re gonna put 70% of our resources and effort towards maximizing sales on Amazon.’ And data-informed says, ‘Okay, well, we know Amazon is a transactional point, for a lot of people, but it’s not necessarily the point of discovery. [There are] sites that include links to Amazon, social links…’ 


“Data is only as useful as the context you’re pulling it into, and the other insights you bring to it.“

– Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Content Officer at LibraryPass

“There’s a lot of reasons people go to buy a book on Amazon, and half of them have nothing to do with Amazon helping them discover that book. So if you decide to shift 70% of your resources towards Amazon advertising, and you’re only prioritizing metadata on Amazon, you potentially are losing all of the other touch points that drove those sales to Amazon and suddenly, your Amazon percentage may stay at 70% but your overall sales may drop. And that, to me, is one of the key differences between we’re data-driven versus data-informed. That’s where you really draw a line.”

Joshua Tallent, Director of Sales and Education at Firebrand Technologies and BookSmarts host, adds, “The amount of data you have and the type of data you’re pulling in…  if you’re only looking at a subset of real information, then you’re only going to have enough information to make a very narrow choice. But when it comes down to the data that publishers receive, a lot of times, they don’t get enough data to really be able to be data-informed in the first place. And so you feel like you have to be data-driven, and just make decisions based on what you’ve got.”

Data informed publishers constantly analyze their raw data from as many sources as they can find—from their own internal databases as well as data from their partners’, even beyond sales data. What data points do you use to inform your strategies?

Listen to Guy LeCharles Gonzalez on the BookSmarts podcast.

Backlist is the backbone

Although most titles available on NetGalley are pre-pub, frontlist books (“galley” is in our name, after all), we often work with publishers to promote backlist as well! Often, a publisher wants to promote an author’s previous works on the cusp of a new release, or an important current event may make an older book suddenly relevant to audiences again.

In his interview with BookSmarts, Michael Cader notes, “It’s sort of extraordinary that the business is doing so well given the depth of the real challenges we’re seeing. One is just the increasing difficulty of selling new books, right? You know, what we’ve seen during the pandemic is the backlist sales continue to rise. Backlist sales have been rising for years, which is in part a function of the increased percentage of book sales online, right? Because an online environment is less conducive to displaying new titles, and stacking them up and putting them in prime real estate [as happens in brick and mortar stores], and more conducive to people browsing or searching, or going to look for the book they want at the price or vendor they want to get it from.”

Chief Marketing Officer at Open Road Integrated Media, Mary McAveney, in a separate interview adds, “Lots of publishers saw great increases in revenue and in sales during that time when people were turning to online search, or browsing [retail sites], but a lot of what was happening is readers were gravitating to books they knew about. They either remembered, or they were classics or somehow the book had an audience.”

Referencing BookNet Canada’s study Aged like a fine wine: What’s the ideal age for a backlist title?, Joshua Tallent says, “When you get into two-to-five years, things really pick up. And so there’s an opportunity there for publishers to take advantage of that—especially with debut authors, or lesser known authors, or those midlist titles that aren’t necessarily the ones that are really going to push a ton of marketing on at the beginning, because they don’t have the time or the energy or the or the money for that. Hitting that middle time period, that two-to-five years, might be just a benefit to go back and say, Hey, let’s just put a little more at this, let’s think about these titles that really haven’t… they’ve kind of been selling a little bit here and there. Let’s put a little bit of effort behind them.”

In a few different conversations, Joshua wants to focus on practicalities. He notes the opportunity and asks, “Where do you think discovery comes from? What do you think that can be doing to really push more discovery?”

Drive discovery by joining communities

Connecting directly with readers has long been at the forefront of publishers’ efforts. Within NetGalley, we see publishers directly invite important media contacts, reviewers and influencers, and use their reports to follow up directly with them. As you can imagine, a number of the people who Joshua interviewed spoke about direct-to-reader efforts as well.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez says, “A lot of the practicalities come from a direct connection to readership. One of the first things I look at is: if you’ve got a clear vertical that you serve, you’ve got opportunities to capture data beyond just the sales data that gets fed to you from your partners.

“…There is a community for everything on the internet, you can get a pretty clear sense of how big it is and how engaged they are. And you can build a business model around that, if you can develop the right content or services—you know, it’s not just about books—for those communities. But it starts with really understanding those communities. And to do that, you got to be a part of them. So you can’t just go buy, you know, Reddit’s mailing list, or do an ad buy on Reddit, and think you’re engaging with the community, you’re just, you know, shifting traditional marketing approaches to the internet.”


“It’s critical to make sure that you’re thinking about the consumer more than you’re thinking about the book.”

– Mary McAveney, Chief Marketing Officer at Open Road Integrated Media

Mary McAveney adds, “If you have a media hit around a book, it’s like manna from heaven…. but you know, what you have to do is actually build your own verticals, to build your own content sites, because there are people looking for books, and they may only know Dan Brown’s name. They don’t know anybody else in that genre, but they know they like that book. It sounds sort of simplistic, but you want to bring in those people who like that book, and it’s really important to make sure that the [next] book you’re putting in front of them when they’re doing that search is something they’re going to enjoy just as much as that book. 

“Authors spend their lives writing [fantastic books] and they shouldn’t be punished just because the demand isn’t evident. You should be able to build that. But it’s work. It’s really creating your own owned media through funnels and content verticals and articles. And if you can harness those readers and really continue that relationship and build it. If you become like a hand-seller you know what [anyone] likes to read, right? Because they’re clicking pretty consistently on the books that they like to read. And as that reader stays in your system for years, you become even more and more familiar with what they’re looking for. And you can really segment the titles well for them, and so that becomes really critical.”


Presented by NetGalley, We Are Bookish is an editorial blog, presenting an independent voice to highlight books and a bookish lifestyle. Recurring features include: book recommendations, author interviews & guest posts from publishing professionals, cover and stepback reveals, gift guides, book club resources, NetGalley member spotlights, and more.

“I know that so many publishers, of all different sizes, are building mailing lists and really trying to develop that one-to-one relationship with the consumer. And it’s critical, but it’s also critical to make sure that you’re thinking about that consumer more than you’re thinking about the book. You have a book you spent a lot of money on to purchase, and you want to push that book out to every consumer you can think of, but that isn’t necessarily going to win the day at the end. You want to really cultivate those customers.

“It’s not an easy proposition. It’s extremely costly to do that. But the way we [at Open Road] started, is really to start with demand. What are people currently searching for? How does that map to the kinds of books that we have available to put in front of them? It starts there, and then you can use those audiences to build—it becomes sort of a pyramid, you get your base of consumers, and then you use those to build on top of it more, more and more. Whether you’re using social channels, or you’re using external newsletter ads, or you’re using just your content and your search engine optimization, or you’re using search engine marketing, there are a number of tools. And they all require a good amount of expertise to function well.”

Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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2021 NetGalley Member Survey, Part II

All About Audio

In Part I of our Member Survey overview, we saw that 49% of the nearly 10,000 respondents consider themselves to be Audiobook listeners. It was important to us to gain more knowledge about their listening preferences and habits, so we asked Audio-specific questions to those members who favor the format. We’re excited to share even more of what we learned!


Librarians, Educators and Reviewers are the biggest listeners of Audiobooks on NetGalley, though all member types show significant interest in the format! Once we narrowed down those members who consider themselves Audiobook listeners, we asked even more specific questions about their listening habits. The following charts include responses from only those members who indicated that they listen to Audiobooks.

Across all member types, most survey respondents listened to between 1 and 9 Audiobooks in the past year. But a significant portion (20.5% on average) indicated that they listened to 10-19 Audiobooks. Educators in particular fall into this range. As we saw in Part I of our Member Survey overview, ​​NetGalley members are voracious readers and listeners who consume multiple books per year, across formats.

Most members indicated that they listen to Audiobooks daily:

With only one exception, all member types listen to Audiobooks daily. Only Booksellers are slightly more likely to listen on a weekly basis instead.

Since NetGalley members read and listen across all formats, it was important to us to understand why someone might choose an Audiobook over the print or digital format. 58% of respondents explicitly said they choose Audiobooks because they are already a fan of the narrator. This is not surprising, as we’re seeing elevated profiles for narrators online, where they are building loyal followings on social media.

To escalate this growth, Audiobook publishers can strategically include prepub access as part of their marketing strategy, and coordinate even more closely with the marketing and publicity teams who are working on the other formats. This will ensure that important audio-specific info—like narrator or cast—are included in those efforts, and that prepub access is granted to NetGalley members who are likely to access and review both formats. This will help build more buzz and momentum for the Audiobook at on-sale, and it will empower narrators to build their own platforms and following—a similar process that authors have traditionally benefited from.

Did you know . . . Audiobooks on NetGalley currently generate a higher rate of return for Feedback when compared to Digital Review Copies. The Feedback rate for Audiobooks averages about 46%, compared to 33% for DRCs, since January 2021.

When we asked members why they love listening to Audiobooks, they told us that the audio format allows them to multitask. Nearly all of the top five reasons they listen to Audiobooks have to do with this broadest motive:

The top five activities that members participate in while listening to Audiobooks include:

So, where do these listeners discover Audiobooks?

NetGalley is a top source for Audiobook discovery for most members, with Librarians slightly favoring discovery within a library. We’ve only shown the top five responses for each member type in the chart above, but other sources include Libro.fm and Social Media Influencers.

Nearly all members selected Goodreads as their preferred social media platform for Audiobook discovery, with Instagram as a close second. The one exception was Media, who favor Instagram over Goodreads. Facebook is the third choice for all member types.

We also provided a write-in option to tell us specifically who their favorite narrators were, and over 400 individual narrators were mentioned, many of whom were frequently repeated by multiple members. Julia Whalen was named over 100 times! 

NetGalley is the top source for Audiobook discovery among survey respondents. On average, 64% indicated they discover Audiobooks on NetGalley.

Additionally, 74% of survey respondents said NetGalley Promotions influence their decision to request or download books and audiobooks! Did you know that Audio publishers can take advantage of any of the NetGalley Promotions found in our Media Kit? Explore our Audiobook-specific Recently Added Spotlights and seasonal Audiobook-specific Newsletters—both with special pricing!

We have been so thrilled to work with publishers to promote their Audiobooks. Since NetGalley introduced the audio format on our platform in 2020, over 45,000 members have expressed interest in Audiobooks within their NetGalley Profile and have submitted over 100,000 Feedback and Reviews.

These survey results reinforced how valuable NetGalley can be for Audiobook publishers, so we’re offering new clients a FREE 2-month subscription*—if you sign up by December 31, 2021. Existing clients can get FREE placement in our next Audiobook Newsletter on January 13, 2022 (a $500 value).

Email concierge [at] netgalley.com before the end of the year to take advantage of either offer!

For more information about the NetGalley community as a whole, in particular their habits with digital and/or print formats, please see Part I of our Member Survey overview.

*This free 2-month offer allows for up to 5 active audiobooks on NetGalley, a value of nearly $800. If you’re interested in adding more than 5 audiobooks, please let us know!

All data taken from NetGalley’s 2021 Member Survey (conducted from August 14 – 31, 2021), and/or from member stats and activity on the NetGalley.com platform as of September 2021.

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2021 NetGalley Member Survey, Part I

Over the past two years, NetGalley has recorded unprecedented growth. Since 2019, the NetGalley community has grown by 50%! With so many new members, we knew it was important to gain more knowledge about their reading preferences and habits to ensure we understand how and why they interact with books, whether on NetGalley or elsewhere.

This summer, we launched a survey and nearly 10,000 active NetGalley members in the U.S. answered our call. We’re excited to share what we learned!

49% of all survey respondents consider themselves audiobook listeners, and that’s still just a fraction of the over 45,000 members who have expressed interest in Audiobooks within their NetGalley Profile. Keep an eye out for more insights about Audiobook listeners in the coming weeks—we’ll have more to share about the audio-specific questions from this survey in Part II of our Member Survey overview! Keep an eye on your NetGalley publisher dashboard to be alerted about it!

While BookTok continues to turn backlist titles into bestsellers, at this moment TikTok is relatively low on our members’ social media priorities. For Booksellers, it was the 5th top social media platform (after Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). For Reviewers, Educators and Librarians it came in as 6th.  Although social media trends ebb and flow, if Bookstagram and BookTube are anything to go by we’re sure to see BookTok continue to gain traction among NetGalley members. We’ll be paying close attention to their habits in this space.

It’s probably no surprise that Goodreads is among the top platforms for talking about books, and Bookstagram continues to be a popular and powerful platform for NetGalley members. As you can see above, it is among the top social platforms for nearly all members. This is especially true for Audiobook discovery, which we’ll share more about in Part II of our Member Survey overview. 

When you are working on social campaigns for your books, be sure to include NetGalley in those plans! Customize the hashtags you’d like members to use when they’re talking about a book, and consider a Sponsored Social Package with shareable posts and interactive content. (See page 18 of our 2022 Media Kit.)

74% of survey respondents said NetGalley Promotions influence their decision to request or download books and audiobooks!


Perhaps no surprise, but in addition to posting reviews on Goodreads, NetGalley members also use that platform to discover new titles as well. Friend and peer recommendations remain high.

As a resource for discovering new books, Publishers remain high on the list for all member types! All of your efforts to invite members using the NetGalley widget and approving requests are working–we’ve seen an average of over 230,000 monthly approvals in 2021.

As you can see, even aside from NetGalley our community is very active in the bookish world. We know that NetGalley members are avid readers, and it was important to us to gain a greater understanding of their habits even outside of our own system. Demonstrated in the charts below, NetGalley members are definitely reading both print and digital.

NetGalley members are voracious readers–consuming multiple books per year, across formats. In addition to Print and Digital formats, Audiobooks continue to grow in popularity among our members. On average, 20.5% of survey respondents said they’ve listened to 10-19 Audiobooks in the past year. We’ll go into more detail about this in Part II of our Member Survey overview!

It’s clear that NetGalley members favor the digital format, but they are very driven to consume book content in any form and continue to read and purchase books beyond their activities on NetGalley. Remember to follow up with approved NetGalley members at the pub date to remind them to share their reviews, as well as offer them retail links to share with their audiences (or use themselves!).

Finally, here’s a look at the full, 650k-strong NetGalley.com member community today. We are proud to work with these highly engaged and supportive reviewers, educators, media, librarians, and booksellers. They’re here to help your books succeed!

650k NetGalley.com members as of November 2021

NetGalley.com Activity

257k unique users monthly
409k avg Requests each month for Books & Audiobooks
87% approved books are downloaded
82k avg Feedback each month for Books & Audiobooks

Part II of our Member Survey overview will be released soon, all about the NetGalley community’s Audiobook listening preferences. Keep an eye on your NetGalley publisher dashboard to be alerted about it!

All data taken from NetGalley’s 2021 Member Survey (conducted from August 14 – 31, 2021), and/or from member stats and activity on the NetGalley.com platform as of September 2021.


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Announcing NetGalley’s 2022 Promotions

View the 2022 Media Kit here!

Hundreds of publishers use our powerful platform to launch their frontlist and leverage their backlist. Whether your goal is to reach trade professionals and early influencers, generate reviews, run giveaways, collect pre-orders, advertise around the pub date, or connect directly with your audience—we have options for every budget, goal and type of book.

74% of members said NetGalley Promotions influence their decision to request or download books and audiobooks!*

These popular programs continue to deliver outstanding results while remaining at a competitive price—even while NetGalley has sustained record-breaking traffic over the past two years. NetGalley.com continues to average nearly 7 million pageviews each month, and our promotional programs are highly valued for their strong engagement rates.

Our dedicated team is committed to meeting the increased demand, so we’ve expanded our inventory for 2022—including brand-new offerings, too!

It is our sincere pleasure to be part of the success of your books, and we look forward to working with you on great campaigns in 2022.

*per August 2021 Member Survey with nearly 10,000 respondents

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Growth & Engagement in 2020

In many ways, 2020 is a year that we’re all ready to put in our rear-view mirrors. In spite of the challenges we have all faced, it’s been inspiring to be reminded of the resilience and creativity that imbues our publishing industry. From Big 5 publishers who suddenly found themselves without access to their warehouses, to independent authors who embarked on digital marketing for the first time, we at NetGalley are proud and thankful to be a trusted partner to so many.

Despite the global pandemic, it’s clear that readers continue to turn to books in all formats. NetGalley’s member community grew by 23% in the US (now over 550,000 members!) and 16% in the UK, where we’re on track to break 100k members in 2021. This growth equates to more eyes on your books, which results in even more early Feedback! We are thrilled to report a 30% increase in Feedback/Reviews when compared to last year. Across NetGalley.com and NetGalley.co.uk over 960k Feedback/Reviews were submitted for over 25,000 books and audiobooks.

30% increase in Feedback/Reviews across NetGalley.com and NetGalley.co.uk

NetGalley experienced record-breaking traffic and engagement in 2020, especially after the launch of the NetGalley Shelf app and Audiobooks. The NetGalley Shelf app is a simple and streamlined experience for members, making it easier than ever to access the books and audiobooks they’re approved for. In 2021, we will introduce streaming audio to ensure an even more seamless listening experience!

Take a look below for some of the astounding activity that books on NetGalley received throughout 2020. If you’re a NetGalley Advanced client, be sure to look at your own “Activity By Member Type” charts to see how your activity compares, and let us know how we can help you reach your most important audiences in 2021!

NetGalley.com
NetGalley.co.uk
Publishers’ approval rates are relatively similar across format, though Media Professionals may receive access to the DRC/ebook format more often than the audiobook.
The audiobook launch drove significant interest in the format, resulting in higher-than-average Feedback rates.

Publishers are approving requests from Librarians and Booksellers at a very high rate–over 90% of requests are approved. This may be because you can easily auto-approve ALA librarians and ABA booksellers from your Settings page. In 2020, these members alone left over 110k Feedback/Reviews!

We know how influential Librarians and Booksellers are, especially when they are nominating books for LibraryReads and Indie Next, in addition to making recommendations to their patrons and customers. If you’re looking for ways to connect with Librarians and Booksellers, consider our monthly Librarian Newsletters or ABA Digital White Box services.

It’s worth noting that the Reviewers on NetGalley have submitted nearly 380k Feedback/Reviews! Reviewers are the largest portion of our community, making the most requests–so even though the approval rate is a little lower than other member types, they are the most significant in terms of overall approvals and Feedback/Reviews. 

When approving requests, keep an eye out for members’ individual feedback ratio and remember that you can click through to see all of the reviews they’ve submitted on NetGalley. Here’s more about what you can see in members’ profiles.

Publishers’ approval rates in the UK are extremely similar across format.
UK librarians respond strongly to the audiobook format.

In the UK, even though approval rates across both the DRC and audiobook format are extremely similar, it’s clear that UK members (Librarians in particular) are responding very strongly to the audiobook format. Be sure that you are associating your DRC and audiobook formats when both are available on NetGalley! This will ensure that members can request the most relevant format for their interests, and is likely to result in a higher rate of return for Feedback/Reviews.

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