As book bloggers, we’re all looking for ways to read and review books before the publication date. One way to get early finished copies is to sign up for ReadersFirst in the UK or BookishFirst in the US. The two sites are owned and run by NetGalley now. Though in the past, ReadersFirst at least was its own thing.
I used to use ReadersFirst a lot. Mostly when they used to offer a lot of books published by Hot Key Books. Now I generally request the chick-lit or romance novels that go up every now and then. I do enjoy getting the chance to win those types of books, so that is a big plus point for me. They also had The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang on there, recently, and The Cruel Prince back when that came out. So they do sometimes get some highly anticipated releases amongst the lesser-known titles.
Obviously, I’ve never used BookishFirst. I’m not in the US, so I can’t win any of the books. Though thinking about it, maybe I should take advantage of some of the samples. See if I do actually want to read the books on there I’m interested in or not. Though I can’t use the site properly, I do check it out every now and then to see what books they offer and have recommended it to American friends before.
With all this in mind, I decided to compare ReadersFirst and BookishFirst. Both sites are very similar, but there are definitely some differences.
Age Range and Genre Options
So, ReadersFirst seems to more regularly share adult books. Quite recently, they’ve started offering some children’s books options which are fun, and they used to giveaway YA books. Now they mostly offer adult options with quite a few thriller and historical novels.
BookishFirst, on the other hand, seems to offer more YA books than adult. The majority of adult books they offer are ones I’ve not heard of, but there has been a lot of highly anticipated YA fantasy and contemporary. That would make BookishFirst a lot more suitable for me. The location limitations just make that unfortunate for me.
If you don’t really enjoy thrillers, historical or even sagas and literary fiction a lot in the UK, then ReadersFirst might not be a good site for you. I’m starting to think that maybe it isn’t for me right now either.
I’ll start this by saying, I understand that if a publisher doesn’t want to work with either site, they won’t be offered on there. I don’t know what deals the publishers or NetGalley have in the works, so I can’t say with any certainty whether any problems in this section are down to the publishers not wanting to be involved or NetGalley not making deals.
In general, BookishFirst has offered more books from a variety of publishers. A quick look on the site showed they have two pages of publishers, with a final one included on a third page. ReadersFirst, on the other hand, only has a single page of publishers, with one single publisher being far more prevalent than any others.
The lack of publisher support could be part of why ReadersFirst does offer a lot fewer books. As I’m writing this (the week beginning the 7th), BookishFirst has three books on offer, each a different genre and publisher. ReadersFirst, on the other hand, doesn’t have a single book on offer this week. And it’s been this way for several weeks now. This could be down to the issues publishers have been having with getting books out in time. There’s nothing anyone can do about that. But if that is the case, ReadersFirst does claim to offer e-books as well. They have not had any e-book giveaways in a while, so this could be something they could do. It might not hurt for them to start offering more, so they can have a weekly giveaway.
Other Things To Do
The main thing to do on both sites is to read samples of books, write a first impression, and then enter a giveaway to win a copy of the said book if you like it. For each first impression and review, you’ll get points, and you can save those points up to claim a future book without needing to be entered into the giveaway. It’s a great idea, and it works fairly.
BookishFirst seems to offer more things to do though.
When you go on BookishFirst, you’ll see the link to a forum. Is it the nicest looking forum? No. It’s basic and not the most aesthetic thing to look at. But it does encourage users to interact. Not only can they talk about the books they win, but the site hosts topics asking people what they’re reading that month and more. It helps make the site more social and is pretty wonderful.
I don’t understand why a similar thing isn’t included on the UK site. As it is, it’s a site you’d only pop on to read first impressions or review books. It’s not one you can visit more than once a week, and that’s kind of sad. I’d love to have the more social aspect on there.
Which do I think is better?
Obviously, this is my personal opinion. If you read different genres to me and don’t want to be social within the bookish community, ReadersFirst might work perfectly well for you. Even without the social aspect, it used to for me. Back when they’d offer more than one book a week with some variety in genres and there wouldn’t be too many missed weeks. But over the last few years, it’s felt like the site is being disregarded.
That feeling gets stronger when I look at BookishFirst in comparison. Style-wise and what they offer, the sites work in exactly the same way. The difference is that the UK one doesn’t have a forum. And looking at the forum, I don’t think it would be that much effort for a web developer to duplicate the code onto the UK site. (And this is coming from someone with some web developer experience.)
Both sites are owned by NetGalley, and NetGalley is a US-based company. Maybe it’s due to the location that they have better connections with US publishers. Maybe, that’s why they offer more. If that’s the case, then maybe the UK team needs some new staff members with a few better connections. And if not, the team needs to look further into why they aren’t offering as much. I don’t want ReadersFirst to be shut down, but it feels like such a second thought of a site, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
I want to love ReadersFirst, but to me, BookishFirst is easily the better of the two. It feels more regularly updated, you get more YA books, and it has the social aspect.
Do any of my readers use either site? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.