Save a Circ Clerk’s Sanity
One common question I’m asked at the library is which of an author’s books comes first…or next. You know, like if an author has a series or some related books that don’t already come with “Book 1” or “2” or “Stupendously Super Series #3” stamped on the cover or spine, people want to know which one to read first…or next.
And I want to help them find out.
But I usually don’t have a lot of time to do this because the person who wants to know is standing there at the checkout desk waiting. And there might be a lineup behind them. Yes, I can look at the book’s copyright date. But sometimes an author will write a prequel, and I’d like to be able to pass that info along. The bigger problem with checking the copyright is I’d need to have all of the author’s books there in front of me–which means leaving the front desk to go to the shelves or assumes the patron has brought a stackload up to the desk with them and none of the ones they want are already out on loan. Wading through holding or bib records is also a serious pain–you should see how many fields there are to scroll through for each book.
Or what if a particular author has several series’ out, each with quite a few books in it (eg. Wilbur Smith)? You have to both sort which series each of the books goes into and then put the book in its order within the series. Searching Amazon.com, which often states book order for physical books, gives me too many results to wade through (movie adaptation, kindle edition, audio book edition, paperback edition, original edition, hard cover edition, etc.), especially for prolific authors, even if I refine the search. How long do you want to stand in line while I figure that out?
So I go for the author’s website. Because they should be able to tell me pretty quickly, right? Sadly, I’m often disappointed.
Please, please, please, authors. Please, under the heading of “Books,” clearly identify the chronological order in which your books should be read, and please identify which books are part of the same series.
Do this and circ clerks everywhere will be highly appreciative and, with sanity intact, be able to continue serving book lovers in our communities for a long time.
(Oh, and while I’m at it, you get bonus points for identifying a book title that’s different in another country!!)
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