Audio books

Digital Review Copies: Free Books for Librarians

Digital review copies are a great way to stay on top of upcoming books. The image shows a book with a blue cover and a blank e-reader with a cord connecting them.
Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

A question I see asked all the time from librarians is “How do I get advance copies of books?” While I love getting physical review copies, seeking out digital review copies may be a lot more accessible for some and they’re certainly easier to come by. Whether you are making purchasing decisions, keeping up with trends for reader’s advisory, or evaluating books for storytime potential, digital review copies are more available than ever right now, so here’s a handy guide to some sources.

Edelweiss & NetGalley

If you’re seeking digital review copies, you should definitely make accounts on Edelweiss and Netgalley. Both sites are free for librarians to request digital review copies and many publishers whitelist librarians so that you can skip the request step and have immediate access to books. For greater chances of being whitelisted, make sure that you mention you’re an ALA member in your profile.

Depending on the format of the book, you may be able to send digital review copies to your Kindle, read them on a tablet, or read them on a laptop or desktop. Although I have several devices at my disposal, what I choose for reading digital review copies often depends on what type of book I’m looking at. I find picture books and graphic novels easier to read on a larger screen, so I tend to use my laptop for those, while I will usually send prose novels to my Kindle. Both sites are useful for reading full length digital review copies, but not everything will be available. Even if a full digital review copy is not available, Edelweiss usually includes at least a few spreads from picture books, which I find super useful. You may be able to glean enough information from these spreads and reviews to figure out if you want to purchase a book or if it might work for storytime. If you can’t browse at conferences or bookstores right now, it’s an option to consider. 

Attend Virtual Conferences & Webinars

Attending virtual conferences is not only a great way to find out about upcoming releases, but it can be a great place to score digital review copies, as well. Many virtual events (like School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog coming up on October 15) have virtual exhibit halls where you can scope out new books and talk to publishers and authors. You may find digital review copies available here that aren’t posted to the general public or get automatic approval for conference attendees. Chatting with publisher representatives also gives you a chance to ask about other upcoming books you’re excited about.

Many publishers are also hosting more virtual previews than ever before. Booklist is a great source for free webinars that mention upcoming books being published and you can find a list of Booklist’s upcoming webinars here. Very often publishers share their library marketing contact information at these webinars, so don’t be afraid to reach out if there’s an upcoming book you’re interested in seeing. Publisher marketing folks can let you know if there are digital review copies available.

Audiobook Digital Review Copies

One new development that I am thrilled with is publishers starting to offer audiobook digital review copies. Libro.fm’s Audiobook Listening Copies (ALC) program offers complimentary audiobooks for librarians that provide their ALA membership number. Publishers provide free digital audiobooks for librarians through Libro.fm’s platform and you can listen to them in the Libro.fm app. Each month there is a new selection offered and, while many of the titles are adult titles, there are always some children’s and young adult titles on offer, too.

And both Netgalley and Edelweiss now offer audiobooks as well as e-books. So far, it seems like the vast majority of titles available are adult titles, but there are some youth titles offered. I haven’t delved into Netgalley and Edelweiss’s audiobook offerings yet, but it appears that Netgalley audiobooks play on the Netgalley Shelf app (read more about Netgalley Shelf and audiobooks here), while Edelweiss gives you access to download audio files on the device you want to play them (read more about how to download audiobooks with Edelweiss here).

If you’re an audiobook listener, these are wonderful ways to stay on top of new books coming out!


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials

One comment

  1. Samantha Mairson

    Great post!

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