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Posted on Oct 3, 2008 in Stuff We Like

Passing in Review – Some Questions for You

Gerald D. Swick

I want to ask you a couple of questions, but first, here’s an amazing statistic you can toss into conversations:

Three thousand books are published daily in the United States alone, according to Publisher’s Weekly. Three thousand daily!

That translates to — let’s see, naught from naught is naught, carry the square of the hypotenuse — 1,095,000 books brought forth upon the American continent each year and that doesn’t include the totals from Canada and Mexico, let alone Europe and the rest of the world.

Of that staggering total, a small but significant portion is comprised of works of history, military history, strategy and tactics, or geopolitical books (war is politics by other means). Add on all the historical fiction that’s published, and it is obvious no one can keep up with everything that’s coming off the printing presses.


At the same time, book review sections — long a staple of newspapers and magazines— are being dropped or reduced in size. This is a cost-cutting measure, but it probably also reflects declining interest in reviews; otherwise, publications would hesitate to reduce the space given to them.

Even on book reviews draw fewer readers than many other articles do, although our Web visitors tend to be more inclined to read books than the general population is and many of them have extensive personal libraries.

So here are those questions I mentioned in the first sentence:

Do you read book reviews? Why or why not? If you do, what do you look for, what do you want in reviews? Do you read the author POV articles we publish? What would you like to see changed in how we handle book reviews on the Web page? If you were the Web editor — which I am — how would you change this section to make it more useful and meaningful? Or would you rather the whole section just went away?

We’ve added discussion about this on our forums, but feel free to add comments to this blog directly. We want your opinions.