Thursday, September 10, 2009


Today I came across a phrase for a phenomenon I was familiar with in the book industry, but had not been able to name: Status Galleys. A galley is a phrase used mainly in the US publishing scene, meaning an advance copy of a book yet to be published, which has been printed, bound and distributed to booksellers and media for the purpose of reviewing and (hopefully) building buzz. Here is Australia, we call them "proofs", "reading copies" or "something to hold up a wonky table" (depending on the quality of said advance copy).

A status galley then, is an advance copy of a book that is highly anticipated or long-awaited, and that certain members of the arts industries take great pride in showing off. The New York Observer writes a great piece about status galleys here.

If you want to impress the literati this season, here is a partial list of the books you should be carrying...

Sam Lipsyte - The Ask (see him read an excerpt here).

Jonathan Lethem - Chronic City

Joshua Ferris - The Unnamed

Jonathan Safran Foer - Eating Animals

Jane Austen & Ben H. Winters - Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (video preview here)

Barbara Kingsolver - The Lacuna

There are many more, but I'm off to a coffee shop to show off my newest status galley, Gin Phillips' The Well and The Mine. Mmmm, previewey...

What are YOUR status galleys for the season?


LiteraryMinded said...

I'm the status galley queen - though most of the time I don't actually get around to reading them until post-release, doh! Case in point, I've had Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood for three months, it's almost out (or is it out?) I have Alex Miller's Lovesong - that's not due out until November, I'm pretty proud of that one.

Ariel said...

I have the Barbara Kingslover, but I covet the Jonathan Lethem and would swap it tomorrow if I could ...

I do have a really handsome proof (or 'galley') of Lethem's 'Fortress of Solitude' with a graffiti-type cover that I snaffled just before it came out in Australia, when no one (including me) had heard of it. At the Penguin Christmas roadshow where it was presented, all that popped up on-screen was the cover and title, no blurb or explanation, but it somehow grabbed me and I got my rep's only proof. And then I raved about the book for the next year. That's still the status proof I'm most proud of!

Christopher Currie said...

Nice work on the Lethem, Ariel!

Don't worry, Ange, the Atwood ain't out till November. You're still cool till then.

My best one this year was probably a US proof of Jim Lynch's "Border Songs".