A question went out recently on one of the listservs about our favourite and least favourite ways of learning about new publications. This is adapted from my response:
I prefer to see new titles as they come out from major publishers via RSS feeds. If I keep up to date this way I don't need to spend time going through catalogues later or having sales reps sit down and go through titles with me on a quarterly basis as is the traditional practice. I have therefore tried to take my name off distribution lists of catalogues or have returned them to the publishers; I prefer to refer to on-line catalogues rather than paper if I am looking for titles on specific subjects later since they often have more information and more current information with regard to pricing, etc.
I don't like receiving direct mail advertising. I receive stacks and stacks of direct mail, including several copies of everything addressed to all current and past library staff. I have tried to get off a number of these mailing lists, at times without success. Now I have the person who opens our mail discard everything outright except for one copy of mailings from small publishers and vendors. This has taken a huge burden off me. Almost equally, I don't like to receive notice about new titles via email. Either they come one at a time on a continual basis, or are gathered together in a regular newsletter and may as well be a catalogue since I'm not going to spend time going through it.
I don't know if this method (using RSS and discarding the direct mail) would work for every type of library, but it has certainly saved me a lot of time. I have little advertising to deal with, don't have to spend time meeting with sales reps unless I have the time and inclination (unfortunately I generally don't have the time). I read the feeds as I have time, not as the paper pile forces me to do so. I have been urging Canadian legal publishers to implement RSS feeds for their new titles. At some point I hope our association CALL can then merge all the feeds together into one feed from our website for everyone's use.
Adapted from a post I made to the NEXGENLIB (next generation librarian) listserv.