Thoughts On: Backlist vs. Frontlist

“Thoughts On” is a feature where I give my (often rambling) thoughts on a topic relevant to reading, literature, or the book business. To see previous topics, click here.

back·list /ˈbakˌlist/ noun
a publisher’s list of older books still in print, as opposed to titles newly available (known as the frontlist)

When I first started blogging, I almost exclusively read and reviewed backlist books (even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing). I’m a very conservative book buyer, so everything I read had to be inexpensive or else accessible through my library. It’s not that I didn’t want to read what has new and much-hyped, it’s that an older book selling for 80% off was much more attractive than a new one selling for 20%, and a book I could borrow right now was better than one for which I had to wait weeks or even months.

Even though reviewing backlist books can make a review memorable––when everyone is off chatting about one thing, it’s really difficult to stand out!––it can also mean that I’m often shouting into the void. People may or may not have read the book in question (or even recognize it), or they’re just not in the mood to read a review for a book that’s five years old.

So that’s where frontlist books come in!

Haven’t read a particular book yet? It doesn’t matter! You’ve probably seen it talked about so much online that you understand the story enough to appreciate the review. Or multiple people in your corner of the internet have all read a new title and so it’s easy to get multiple takes on the same story. Being a part of NetGalley and Edelweiss makes it much easier to get copies of books before they’re published––upping the chance that I’ll actually get to read a title while the hype is strong––but reading ARCs often stresses me out. Having to read a particular book by a particular date just makes me want to do anything but.

I’m not really sure that ever I’ll come up with or come across a strong argument for either side. I quite enjoy discovering older titles, reading them at my leisure and then scouring the internet for reviews. It means that I’m less likely to have expectations––either positive or negative. But there’s also nothing quite like reading a story along with basically your entire Twitter feed and collectively freaking out at the same time. (This is one of the reasons why I live-tweet Game of Thrones!) I think I’m happiest when I can balance frontlist titles with a couple of backlist ones, mood-reading to my heart’s content; the variety keeps me sane! After the next four weeks of ARC reviews, it will be nice to get back into some sort of happy rhythm.

Tell me friends!

  • Do you have a first-class ticket on the Hype Train or do you let a book stew for months (or even years!) before you read it?
  • As a blogger, how do you balance backlist titles with frontlist titles?
  • As a reader, do you prefer reading multiple takes on the same book or do you like finding an outlier?

2019 Blogging Goals

meganfoxhello

Aloha, 2019!

I love when other bloggers post their goals because I find it fun to see what they choose to prioritize (and whether I should prioritize that stuff, too!). I have tried to make yearly goals before, but I either dictate my reading life too formally (have y’all seen how I kind of fail my quarterly tbr posts yet??) or else don’t have a good plan of attack (um “read more”? what is that). For 2019, however, I have both goals and a way to reach them. I want to:

  • Read 39 books
    • focusing slightly on finishing any series I currently have in progress
    • and prioritizing past-due NetGalley titles to bump me up to 80% approval (currently at 48%)
  • Post 2-3 times per week on this blog and average 100 views per month (currently at 75)
  • Post 3 videos per month on YouTube and reach 50 subscribers by the end of the year (currently at 15)

For instance, reading at least 210 minutes per week won’t guarantee that I’ll finish 39 books by the end of 2019, but it’s a habit that I both enjoy and that will keep me reading. I also can’t guarantee that I’ll average a certain number of views or reach a certain number of subscribers, but planning ahead and sticking to a consistent posting schedule won’t hurt, either. I also plan to count statistics for the first time because I love what SocialBlade offers and want that kind of info for both WordPress and Bloglovin’. (Like, I can’t even guess at a goal for subscribers because I have no idea how many I gain per month. 👎)

So… that’s it! What are your goals for 2019?

Month in Review: October 2018

month in review - oct

Favorite Media

I knew The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory was going to be a fun, contemporary romance but boy did I NOT expect Guillory’s ability to write. Her characters are fully-fleshed, the plot flies, and everyone just happens to be non-white and non-hetero. (Woot.) Here’s to hoping I love The Wedding Date just as much!

Y’ALL. I binged the first two seasons of The Good Place in four days then sat on my couch and plaintively asked, “What do I do now?” out loud once I’d finished. The third season feels ~different somehow, but I can’t figure out if it’s because the crew is SPOILER[on earth] or because I’m not watching six episodes in a row on my iPad under a blanket. I have thought many times about rewatching the first two seasons because I loved them so much.

Stuff I Added to My Queue

Honestly, I have no idea where I first encountered Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young (maybe on Lit Hub?), but I absolutely love the cover and the summary kind of hits all my buttons, too.

A fellow librarian purchased Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great Is Not Okay for the young adult collection, and the cover intrigued me so much that I felt compelled to read the summary… and that sounded so interesting that I added it to my TBR. #whoops

I will pretty much look into anything that mentions time travel, but not all time travel books are the same. Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen has so many different parts to it that I can’t wait to figure out how they all fit. PLUS it’s set in the ’90s. AND I love that cover.

A NEW ALL SOULS BOOK aka Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera seems to be inspiring both great and terrible reviews, but I adored Love, Simon and have They Both Die at the End on my TBR, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a teenage romcom featuring two guys. (AND THAT COVER.)

On My Radar

  • I made myself a blog calendar via Google Sheets to better organize the content I want to include on thewasofshall – very heavily influenced by Shealea over at That Bookshelf Bitch btw – and it’s either going to make me extra a+ organized or super overwhelmed.
  • I got so many books this month that I have enough for another book haul video!
  • I’ve been trying to be more active in seeking out ARCs, and I was recently approved for three great-sounding ones: Here and Now and Then (01/29/19), My Favorite Half-Night Stand (12/04/18), and You Know You Want This: ‘Cat Person’ and Other Stories (01/15/19). It means I have to figure out when to read them but then again I also get to read them.

What were YOU up to in October? Let me know!

Top Ten: Goals for 2015

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was book & blogging goals/resolutions for 2015.

My goals:

  1. Participate in and finish the BookRiot #ReadHarder campaign
  2. Read Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy
  3. Read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Andy Weir’s The Martian
  4. Read George Eliot’s Middlemarch in order to fully understand Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch
  5. Read John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In so that I can then watch its two film adaptations, Let the Right One In and Let Me In
  6. Read Lois Lowry’s The Giver series
  7. Read all of Rainbow Rowell‘s books (except Attachments, which I actually read in 2012 and got a like from Rainbow herself on Tumblr after posting a quote – like, oh my god, whoa #nojoke)
  8. Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes, vols. 1 & 2
  9. Read the following YA series that I completely missed over the past 5 years: Anna and the French Kiss, Divergent, If I Stay, Just One Day, and Shatter Me
  10. And blog at least once per week