Barnes and Noble discovers great new writers

I have picked up a lot of good books at Barnes and Noble on their “Discover Great New Writers” shelf, which I don’t think I would have found otherwise, and was curious to learn more about how they picked these books. The program, which began in 1990, aims “to highlight works of exceptional literary quality that might otherwise be overlooked in a crowded book marketplace.” They vet the books at two levels. Publishers suggest new titles, which a group of “Barnes & Noble bookseller volunteers” go through four times a year and pull out a group to feature each season. (Here is a link to the fall 2013 list.) Then once a year they engage a handful of published writers to vet the larger list and select one fiction and one non-fiction “Discover Award” winner for the year.

They also have a blog, with posts written by Miwa Messer, the director of the program, where she writes about and interviews writers featured on their shelves. I’ve been curious about a book she wrote about earlier this month, Caleb Crain’s Necessary Errors: A Novel, which is about expats living in Prague in the 90s.

I think this is a valuable program and reflects the importance of booksellers in the marketplace, especially those who curate the content for us!








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4 responses to “Barnes and Noble discovers great new writers

  1. Your post illustrates the importance of brick and mortar bookstores, especially (in my opinion) Indie stores, where the salespeople have close relationships with their customers, know what they like, and are knowledgeable about their selection. (If they aren’t, their customers would shop elsewhere.) I worked for four years at just such a store. Although we had a loyal client base, there were some customers who used us as a place to browse, to scan some of the text, and then shopped on line. I wanted to scream, “We aren’t a library!”

    • Thanks, Christina for this thoughtful comment. I completely agree with you and feel like the human side of bookselling gets forgotten about. Especially now with so many books to choose from, booksellers are a vital resource. They were “curating content” long before that term became sexy in regards to online content.

  2. Kate, thanks for researching. I have regularly looked at this list from Barnes and often wondered about their selection process. Now, I know.
    Keep all the good blogs coming!

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