Was it a vision or just a sight?
Uh-oh. That was unquestionably a frown (which Customer Service 101 assures us is a Bad Thing) clouding the nice library patron's countenance. She even shook her head in disapproval at something I'd just shown her.
And our interchange had been going so well. I'd shared lots of information about Overdrive eBooks, noting that, while some major publishers decline to make their eBooks available for library circulation, we still add new digital titles every month and offer a great variety for free checkout.
Probably should have stopped there, but instead I lovingly tapped my finger atop two printed advance reading copies I'd just been handed. These were intended as stellar examples of new and forthcoming choices: Karen Engelmann's The Stockholm Octavo and Ariel S. Winter's The Twenty-Year Death.
At that point, the customer and I beheld two quite different things.
I glimpsed two intriguing novels I'd intended to snap up at BEA, had I been in the right place at the right time. Both authors had spoken passionately about their stories at Library Journal's debut author panel. Engelmann's historical piece, set in 18th-century Stockholm and incorporating a sort of mystical card game, lines up perfectly with my preferred tastes.
Winter's crime novel (three crime novels in one, actually) exhibits classic hard-boiled cover art, auguring that it's not what I usually go for--and yet I have been itching to read it ever since Winter chatted it up and sold me and a not inconsiderable number of other librarians on it.
These two ideal selections for Readers Extravaganza weren't going to get read before August 16 if I didn't have copies. I asked co-worker and Acquisitions magician Barbara if she could request pre-publication copies through our library vendor, acknowledging the mission to be a long shot. But Barbara and our rep came through. I'd just delightedly taken possession when this whole conversation started.
My vision of the two paperback represented wishes granted. The alert customer, on the other hand, beheld two flimsy volumes with paper quality one or two notches above newsprint.
I cherish the not-ready-for-primetime look and feel of ARCs as evidence that these are not intended for the masses. But these two items weren't merely unpolished; the corners were just slightly dog-eared and the books appeared, as the patron observed, potentially "used". Perhaps my treasures had endured a problematic transit; maybe I'm not their first reader. None of that matters; I am thrilled with them.
If you come to Readers Extravaganza, I'll at least be able to tell you if these two first novels lived up to my considerable expectations. Who knows--perhaps you can borrow one of these copies that will appear even less pristine at that point, but all the lovelier for having granted access and enjoyment.