September 13, 2017

NextReads newsletters: Theme and variation

We do themed sections in NextReads newsletters to help circulate your library’s backlist by drawing attention to the books you already have on your shelves. Like physical displays, newsletter themes help readers discover new treasures -- or remind them of books they'd forgotten they wanted to read.

Like physical displays, NextReads themes are often based on the calendar, the season, a popular interest or trend, a much-loved author, series, book, or movie, or some other hook, like debuts. Sometimes they’re based on an idea we find intriguing, like unusual locations, or a perennial issue for kids, like bullying. Though we spend a lot of time selecting the best candidates for our themes, with the variety of collection development policies you use and the communities you serve, we know that 100% of the books we pick will not be on every library’s shelves. If you don't have one of the books we've chosen, we hope you feel comfortable removing it and adding one you do have -- or changing the theme entirely to suit your particular audience! Below, we’ve collected some ideas that we hope will help you replace individual books or entire themes. For those of you who create custom book-focused newsletters, these might help you find books for your themes, too.  

If you want to replace just a title or two, use the following search tips & tricks to find alternatives that are already on your shelves:

  • For a read-alike theme for a book, author, or series, use NoveList to find more suggestions. NoveList has all three types of recommendations -- on any book, author, or series record page, check the sidebars or the "Lists & Articles" tab.
  • For a topical theme (like bullying, the Cold War, or Mars), search NoveList using those terms, limiting by audience and genre (and even pub date). If your library has On the Shelf (or OTS), NoveList itself can tell you if the books are held in your collection.
  • For more complex themes (I'm thinking something like Pop Culture's "As Seen on TV") search for keywords or look up a representative title in NoveList and use the "Search for More" function at the bottom of the book record. Again, if your library has OTS, you'll be able to see which books are in your collection.

If you want to replace the theme entirely, swap it out for:

  • A list of books in the genre that have been published in the last year. Call it, like we do, "Great books you might have missed." 
  • Staff picks. Why not share the books you and your colleagues love? 
  • Pick a well-known author in the genre, and see if NoveList has an Author Read-alike article on them. Use the books and authors suggested to offer suggestions to your NextReads subscribers. 
  • Check out the Recommended Reads lists in NoveList for the appropriate genre, and choose from those books; the theme's in the title of the list!
  • Choose a topic hot in your community, or in support of upcoming author or library events.

If you’re still stuck for ideas for building themes, talking books, or increasing circulation, sign up for updates from the rest of the NoveList Book Squad -- the Keeping Up with NextReads newsletter is focused specifically on NextReads content in LibraryAware, and the rest will provide great ideas for talking with your patrons about books.

For more information on newsletters, sign up for our upcoming webinar on Reaching Targeted Audiences with Newsletters, featuring librarians from around the country talking about their best practices.

Shauna Griffin is the Creative Content Supervisor at NoveList. Want to hear more from her about her work with NextReads? Sign up to receive Shauna's Book Squad email updates

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