Online Reading Communities: Net Galley Reviewed

The Education Techie writes about tools that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is reviewing online reading communities. Today's review: NetGalley.

NetGalley logo

What Is It

When you hear the word 'galley,' you might think of a kitchen on a boat. But in the publishing world, the word galley refers to a pre-final publication version of a book or other manuscript. NetGalley is a service for 'professional readers' to gain access to digital copies of galleys that are currently being prepared for publication. The site defines 'professional readers' as individuals who review or distribute books. This includes bloggers, journalists, teachers, librarians and booksellers.

In order to use NetGalley, you will have to register and select a category that describes your profession: bookseller, educator, librarian, media professional or reviewer. Your registration must be authorized by NetGalley in order to access galleys. Your status as a 'professional reader' will be accepted or rejected at this point. Once you are registered, you can access galleys in two ways. Registered users can request access to galleys from publishers, and the publisher will then review the user's profile and grant or deny access to the requested material. If you use the site frequently, you may be able to get added to publishers' contact lists, and they will send you invites to their galleys.

There are a lot of different publishers registered with NetGalley, including big name organizations like the Columbia University Press, Penguin Classics and HarperCollins. Some publishers have specific request criteria, though most do not. If your request for a galley is granted, you can download the publication in a variety of formats, including e-readers like the Kindle and Nook. A lot of publishers include other information along with the galley, like book trailers and other press kit materials. NetGalley also provides built-in methods for sending reviews to publishers.

What Are Its Pros and Cons?

Because it is limited to professional readers, NetGalley might not be accessible for many. However, their categories are generous, and they allow for education professionals to use the system. It's also free for readers to use, which is another plus. Still, I don't think NetGalley has as broad a utility as the other reading communities I looked at for this series. To begin with, it focuses on books that are not yet published, so even if you do get to access the materials, you will really only be reading a preview of books that are on the way.

I can see this being a good way for librarians to look for new materials to include in their libraries. And with several university presses included in the publisher list, professors and other teachers may well be able to search out new books to include in syllabi once they are published. This is the most useful role I can see NetGalley playing in an educational context. For reviewers, journalists and booksellers, though, I think this is a great way to make use of digital media. Making access to galleys as simple as a few mouse clicks is a great way to speed the process of getting pre-published material to interested professionals.

This is the third in a series of reviews on online reading communities. Previously, the Techie reviewed Goodreads and BookMooch. Stay tuned for more of these reviews this week!

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