Junior Library Guild Picks Samurai

>> Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Yesterday I got an interesting e-mail from Dial - the subsidiary rights department has sold Samurai Shortstop to the Junior Library Guild. The e-mail told me this was something of a big deal: "Congratulations! They are very particular about books, and the books they choose are always from the best of the crop."

Okay, cool. But what the heck is the Junior Library Guild? Coming from retail bookselling backgrounds, Wendi and I had heard the name (it's often listed among a book's plaudits) but we had no idea what that really meant. As always, it was off to that great oracle the internet to learn more. From their web site:

JLG works as a review service on your behalf. Our distinguished editorial staff reviews over 1,500 manuscripts before publication—from the lists of the foremost children's book publishers—to make our 252 selections. We offer twenty-one carefully delineated Reading Levels from which to choose, covering preschool through high school.
So I'm one of 252 books they chose? That works out to just sixteen percent of the books they review. That's elite company.

Further reading reveals that the Junior Library Guild prints their own books. So in addition to the 8,000 Dial is printing, JLG will print another few thousand (I don't know the particulars yet) vastly increasing Samurai's exposure. I'm liking this. But wait - doesn't this mean that some libraries will buy the JLG edition, and not the Dial edition? My goal is to sell out the first print run of Samurai. Will this hurt?

My friend Mary Ann Rodman, whose two excellent books Yankee Girl and My Best Friend were both Junior Library Guild picks, says, "JLG sells mainly to smaller libraries who can't afford trade editions of everything . . . . I worked for a small library system in rural Mississippi and some years, the JLG books were just about the only ones they could afford to buy." She also adds that for library exposure, the Junior Library Guild can't be beat.

It also occurs to me that libraries that do their own buying may use JLG recommendations in their decision-making. I'm definitely liking this. Then I read on the Junior Library Guild site that they have a knack for picking award-winners:

As has been true since our inception in 1929, Junior Library Guild offers selections of unsurpassed quality. Nearly 100% of our titles regularly receive favorable reviews from the publications you trust most: Booklist, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book, The Horn Book Guide, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, VOYA, and the H.W. Wilson Catalogs.


Many of our books also receive distinguished awards. Among our recent selections are the winners of the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Charlotte Zolotow Award, the Whitbread Children’s Book Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Ezra Jack Keats New Author and Illustrator Awards, the Jefferson Cup Award, the Américas Award, and the Christopher Medal. Our titles have also been named honor books by the Michael L. Printz, Robert F. Sibert, Jane Addams, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.
Double sweet!

Junior Library Guild selection is of course no guarantee of a book's future success, but being chosen is sort of an award in and of itself. It's the sort of thing publishers like to trumpet on dust jackets and other marketing, and I'm thrilled to have been chosen! Perhaps this is a sign of more good things to come . . .


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