Previously I haven’t ever really pre-ordered books with one exception being Cassandra Clares Clockwork Princess and mainly for the reason that you got a special collectors first edition and to this day The Infernal Devices is one of my favourite book series so I needed that edition that I couldn’t buy in a shop. That’s actually my favourite way of buying books – in shops like Waterstones or WH Smiths, there is nothing like walking into a room filled
with books! The smell of ink and paper fills the air and with either the quiet of a library or the squeals of happy children finding books about pooping dinosaurs or space pirates. I’m not personally religious so for me bookshops are my church, authors are my saints and storytelling is holy. Plus every time you spend 310 in Waterstones go towards a free £10 gift voucher and their points system is pretty great so why not!
But anyway, because I buy books in bookshops, generally spontaneously, I don’t really pre-order and as I’ve gotten older and become more immersed in publishing as an industry I came to understand that, like the film industry, the first week or so after a books release is the most important time. Pre-ordering shows prior interest in a book or an author so can bode well for sequels or other books from the author, it helps gauge how many books should be printed and sent to booksellers i.e. if a book has hundreds of pre-orders less will be printed and distributed than if you have thousands, it could open the option for a book tour which readers tend to love – if a publishers has enough money from pre-orders they can send an author to bookshops, libraries or schools around the country to create a wider audience that have heard about it before or as it is being, published. There are also many more reasons why it is important that you should pre-order books from an authors or a publishers perspective but from a readers point of view there are less pros.
For a reader generally the pro is making sure you get the book first however this doesn’t always work out, for example Amazon and the Book Depository (in the UK anyway) tend to send out pre-ordered books the day the book is released, for A Gathering Of Shadows I got
the book 4/5 days after it was released and unfortunately 2 days before its release I actually found it on the shelf in my local WH Smith meaning I could have actually had the book and read the book before it officially came out had I not already paid for it online. Obviously this is frustrating because it defeats the point of pre-ordering for many, however not for the author, which is why offering gifts to motivate readers into actually pre-ordering their book is becoming very big among publishers. For A Gathering Of Shadows I got four art postcards of 4 of the main characters in the book, two from the first book and two new ones from the sequel, this was amazing as not only was it lovely getting post delivered to me it was also great because it not only gave me something to put on my wall to commemorate my favourite book series ever, but gave me a few clues about what was going to be in the book to get me even more excited to read it. These gifts also build relationships between authors and readers, it’s all well and good loving a specific book or series but what authors want and publishers really want is for you to read more books by the author and get publishers more money and authors a bigger audience and I know that whenever I get these gifts I tend to know about it by following the author on social media or sometimes a publishing company’s website or accounts but this exclusivity of book merch is great because it encourages more interaction with the publishing and literary world and makes you more likely to buy the authors previous works and pre-order future books by interacting with them online
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Then onto gifts themselves, like I said with AGOS I got a set of beautiful high quality art cards by an artist I actually already follow on social media but this would have provided them with a platform too, I also know that some authors offer signed copies or bookplates with art related to the books, Maggie Stiefvater is known for this especially because she actually does the artwork herself. However Maggie’s new book, the finale in her Raven
Cycle series – The Raven King – comes out on the 26th of April and despite wanting to pre-order it with the bookplate unfortunately they only ship from America and are already higher priced because of the bookplate, but this can be used to compare against different publishing houses approaches to pre-order gifts. With the release of Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo a set of dice that coincided with a game that had the characters and a symbol representing them on each side were sent out to a select few that had pre-ordered and were then available to anyone that went to see her on her book tour, again another approach to motivate readers into getting invested in a books first week with rewards, in fact various authors offer special things on book tours including the signings and talks but also things like wristbands, posters, badges, knick knacks (like dice games), cakes, t-shirts, limited edition books or art pieces!
All of these gifts are supposed to make you buy the book and help it to be a success, something many readers would do without incentives (I pre-ordered The Raven King despite missing out on any free gifts) but it’s a wonderful thing for authors and publishers to do, too often readers as a group of people miss out on abundances of merchandise that mediums like film always seem to garner and pre-order gifts help out authors and publishers with success and promotion as well as making readers happy and loyal to writers, all amazing things. So go out and pre-order that sequel that you can’t wait for, or the new book by the author that gives you chills when you read their writing, or the book that your best friend told you looks amazing and follow authors and publishers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and make sure you don’t miss out on free gifts that will make you fall even more in love with books than you already are. And if you miss going into bookshops like I do, go in anyway and buy that book you probably shouldn’t buy, everyone deserves a treat and you’ve just got a free gift from pre-ordering that book anyway!