January 19, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - BookSneeze and NetGalley

Last week I introduced you to two sites that not only make for great virtual libraries, where you can list all the books you own, read, want, etc., but even more so, where you can enter giveaways to get your hands on some free books. Today will be about two quite different websites that aim at bloggers, who may receive free books in return of writing reviews.

The first of these sites, which was also the first one I happened to stumble across on the web, is BookSneeze. While a little weary about whether there might or mightn't be some kind of hitch, after all you get real books, not just eBooks, for absolutely free, I signed in and was more than just pleasantly surprised.
Basically, when you're a blogger, you can sign up for a free account and than request your first book from a list of available books. This list will always change, so there are plenty of different books to choose from. Those books will not always be ARCs, quite often simply books where the publisher, Thomas Nelson, is looking for more reviews.
On to the kind of books available here. Those who've heard of Thomas Nelson before will know that they publish Christian books, bibles, children's books, and much more. So you get quite a broad spectrum of books here, with an emphasis on Christian literature, but not exclusively – they also offer General Interest & Lifestyle books as well as books on Business & Culture.
After requesting your book of choice it takes between days and weeks to reach you. In my case it's usually taking around four weeks (May 2011: lately books take a lot longer, in the worst case even two months) so far, and I live in Europe. All you have to do now is read it, write a review of at least 200 words, and post it on your blog and on some consumer website like amazon.com. And then? Off to request the next book.
Interested in finding out a bit more about BookSneeze? You might want to read this article about how it came to be.

The second website of interest to bloggers is NetGalley. While I only ever found this site late last year I was immediately hooked. Once again this site will provide bloggers with free books – in this case only eBooks that can either be read on a a Kindle or with Adobe Digital Editions. The thrilling part though is that there is quite a broad spectrum of publishers using NetGalley for the purpose of getting reviews for soon-to-be-published books. ARC anyone? I thought so.
If you check out the list of publishers you will be more than just pleasantly surprised, at least I was. From Andrews McMeel to Harper Collins, from Hyperion to University of Iowa. A huge list, really. How to get started is quite simple. Sign up for absolutely free and browse all the available books. That will take a while, because as mentioned before, a lot of publishers are represented here, which makes for a high number of books. Then pick the ones you'd like to read and review and send out a request.
While the requested book on BookSneeze will be sent out right away, in this case each and every publisher will first of all take a look at your profile – which means you better fill it out with informations about you and your blog, so to attract the attention of publishers – and then (this may take between a day or a week, it really depends) you get a notification if the request gets confirmed. That means you may log into your account and download the galley.
So far I requested six books and yes, I got the chance to read the galleys in all cases. Well, so far I read and reviewed two, but the next will follow shortly. This brings me to an important factor, namely the time frame in which you'll be able to read the books, as the galleys will only be available for reading for 60 days once you downloaded them. Though I read somewhere in the FAQ that if you miss that deadline you can download it again, unless the book has generally been taken off NetGalley by the publisher.
Now about the reviews. I don't know whether there are repercussions if you simply request and request but not even once review one of the books. I suggest you only use the site if you really intend on reviewing the requested books. Fair is fair. And hey, the chance to be one of the first to read a book is unbeatable anyway.

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