The Promise of Digital Galleys: AAUP and NetGalley Offer New Discount Program

Much like e-catalogs, electronic galleys and review copies have been one of the great promises of electronic publishing. Printing and shipping review and exam copies can represent a large cost in a small marketing budget—even more when reaching an international market. But like most e-promises, digital galleys have taken a hard road to fulfillment, caught between the tricky questions of file security and the stubborn reality of reviewers’ habits.



In 2008, NetGalley, a subsidiary of Firebrand Technologies, was launched to help smooth this road, providing a digital galley platform that would serve the interests of both professional readers and publishers. NetGalley offers speedy transmission of secure, searchable, full-color digital galleys and multi-media press kits as well as options to read galleys on desktops or e-readers such as Kindle and Nook. Publishers can also view real-time reporting on who is reading a title. The applicability of such a service beyond pre-publication review was quickly obvious, particularly in the areas of course adoption and international rights sales.

This June, AAUP was pleased to announce a new discount program for our members, offered in partnership with NetGalley, for their innovative e-galley service. All AAUP members are now eligible for a 10% discount off of the monthly subscription rate, regardless of their level of participation. NetGalley allows publishers to share galleys and digital press kits with their own reader contacts, as well as with new communities of professional readers through the NetGalley reader membership. Professional readers can register and use the site for free.

AAUP member Island Press has been using the NetGalley services since early 2009, attracted by both the economic and environmental savings that might be realized through e-galleys. Jaime Jennings, publicity manager at Island, shared some insight into their experiences. The Press never has more than 20 new trade (or trade-crossover with professional and academic markets) titles offered in NetGalley. If a title has significant course adoption potential, they will keep it in the system for a longer time.

For course adoption, as with traditional reviewers, Jennings reports that there are some hurdles to surmount with readers. Some professors balk at downloading the Adobe Digital Editions software, and many readers simply still prefer the hard copy. Island is using a number of strategies to work through this reluctance, primarily by pushing the digital galley as an initial step in the review decision. A professor might be pleased to view a pre-publication digital galley and make a more informed request for a print exam copy down the line. For review outlets, Island has found that more are now willing to use the digital galley to the point of deciding whether to assign the title for review and only at that stage requesting a hard copy be sent. Online reviewers, Jennings notes, have been naturally more accepting of the files.

Jennings stresses that the Press has needed to be open to experimenting with the platform and NetGalley features to make the most of the service. Island has found the widget feature—the widget can be copied directly into emails for publishers to invite their contacts to view a title—to be easy to use and of increasing value. They have recently worked closely with the NetGalley team on a title with a complicated 4-color layout and a significant international market—where a print galley would have been ruinously expensive to produce and ship.

There have been unexpected rewards as well. Jennings has listed all Island titles in the “public” NetGalley catalog, so they are discoverable by all readers who have registered with the service. (All requests for digital galleys are sent to the Press for approval.) For a small press, Jennings says, this has been a boon in reaching new audiences, particularly booksellers and small academic and public library buyers who might not have been on the Press’s sales radar before this. Jennings is always looking at which file restrictions, additional marketing material, or title profile will make the most of the service—tweaking and experimenting along the way.

AAUP-NetGalley Discount Program: http://www.aaupnet.org/programs/epub/netgalley.html

Brenna McLaughlin
Electronic and Strategic Initiatives Director, AAUP