Why NetGalley is the Best Kept e-book Secret on the Web

By Michelle Boule |

NetGalley is a community where publishers can connect with reviewers, librarians, and the media and exchange eAdvanced Reader’s Copies. I like ARCs but I adore eARCs even more. NetGalley is not new, but it has gotten a lot of support from publishers, book reviews, and librarians in the past year. While what they do is amazing enough, it is how they do it and the content that really makes NetGalley a wonderful resource for new books.

Setting up an account is easy, choosing the books to request is hard. With 32 genres to choose from 66 publishers, there is literally something for everyone. The list of publishers is full of names you will recognize and a few you may not know. I like that NetGalley is a place where you can find both the large HarperCollins and the new epublisher, (and a personal favorite of mine) Carina Press. There is even a handful of university presses represented. NetGalley is an equalizer. When was the last time you were able to get your hand on an ARC from a niche publisher? The participation of smaller and niche publishers means that you are exposed to a larger variety of books from more authors.

Once you have an account, you can browse the titles available and request them from the publisher. Depending on the publisher, the format may vary, but most titles are available in formats for all reading devices, including mobile devices. Once a request is approved, you can view the titles and choose which ones you download. NetGalley has a viewer that works in the browser as well if you prefer to read online. I have a Kindle and I just choose the Kindle format and it magically appears on my Kindle. Amazing!

After reading a book, you can post a review to the publisher or paste in a review that you have posted elsewhere on the web.  It should be noticed that you do not have to review every book you receive from NetGalley. Even though NetGalley works as a portal for publishers and reviewers and it does store your past reviews, you retain the rights to the reviews you post and send through NetGalley. I think this distinction is not to be taken lightly. It seems to be happening more frequently that websites take for granted that most people are fine with signing over their intellectual property rights to be a part of the community. NetGalley appears to not be going down that road and has instead chosen to respect the intelligence of its users. As a user, you can edit your privacy levels on your public bio or even choose to be an anonymous user.

My only real complaint about NetGalley is that, once inside the site, it is not graphically interesting. However, whatever it lacks in aesthetics, NetGalley makes up with simple ease of use and great content.

NetGalley is one of my favorite finds of 2010.