The other day, I found out Conspirator was out by seeing it on the publisher’s website. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever done that. Before I started writing here I never went to publishers’ websites—these days I have very firm opinions about them, and which ones are good, but before that even though I am in their core constituency, the publishers might as well have saved their HTML to cool their porridge as far as I was concerned.
The most common way I have historically found out that a book exists is to find it on the shelf in a bookshop. I will always remember the day when I literally screamed with surprised delight when I saw The Sign of The Unicorn on the shelf in Chapter and Verse—I’d read the first two, and it was immediately apparent that this was an Amber sequel, but I had no idea that there would ever be such a thing. These days, that’s a lot more unusual, and not just because I’m no longer fourteen. I often know about books before they’re published. I’m waiting for them. I read about them on writers’ blogs, or I see them listed in Locus, or I read reviews here, on on my friends’ blogs. I tend to hang out where people are talking about books. These days the books that surprise me in the bookshop tend to be non-genre books. I was surprised by the new A.S. Byatt while I was buying Conspirator.
Waiting for books that aren’t out yet is like waiting for next winter’s snows. I know they’re coming, but nothing I can do can make them get here faster.
A lot of the time, even though I know a book is on the way, I’ll find out that it’s actually been released because somebody will mention it online. Often one of my livejournal friends will say something like “Picked up Corambis!” Then, depending on how urgently I want it, I rush out immediately, or I make a mental note to check for it when I’m next in the bookshop, or I log in to the Grande Bibliotheque and see if they’re buying it, and if so, put in a reservation. Unlike many people I know, although I buy plenty of books I also continue to use libraries extensively.
The disadvantage of relying on word of mouth is that I can miss things people aren’t talking about. I’ll mostly spot them in the bookshop, because it’s not as if I don’t check the shelves obsessively every time I’m there. A Fistful of Sky was one of those—I had a “Where did that come from?” moment.
I was wondering how typical all this is, how other people these days find out that books they want exist, and that they’re out. Do you rely on spotting it on the shelves? Or word of mouth? Or do you check publishers’ websites? How about the “new books” listing on Locus online? Or are there other methods I should consider taking up?