Book discovery is becoming an insurmountable obstacle, and it’s not just the indie authors who are struggling. Large publishing houses are having to find more and more creative ways to reach out to readers, especially in the current climate in which readers are becoming accustomed to interacting with their favorite authors and with readers of similar genres on social media outlets.
Penguin has launched a new program to help generate some much-needed attention among everyday readers. The First To Read program is intended to bring new releases to readers who will then presumably share their thoughts on the titles via their social connections. Much like NetGalley does for professional reviewers and book bloggers alike, First To Read works on a smaller but vital scale.
According to the program’s landing page, “First to Read is a destination for readers and those who love to talk about and discover new books. First to Read provides members with the chance to be the first to read the best new books from Penguin, before they hit the shelves.”
The program has an interesting format, though. Members will sign up and earn points for filling out their profiles, connecting their social media accounts, visiting the landing page, and more. But for each digital galley, there will only be a predetermined number of copies available, currently between ten and fifty copies of each title. For those members who were not selected in the drawing to receive one of the preview copies, an excerpt of each book will be made available. This excerpt is also available to anyone with whom the members share the excerpt via Facebook or Twitter.
In some regards, this random drawing concept is more of an equalizer than platforms like NetGalley, which allows publishers to select which account holders are approved for particular titles based on their activity in book reviewing, their clout within the online network of book reviewers, and more.
First To Read does offer members the chance to select very detailed genres as their reading preferences. For example, the Fantasy genre was broken down into about six different specific types of fantasy. This level of detail can help ensure that members are sharing positive feedback on books they get to read, rather than offering review copies to readers who don’t prefer that genre.
To sign up for access to First To Read titles, a complete membership profile can be found at FirstToRead.com.