I'd like to use this blog to introduce you to (or remind you of) LJ's online book reviews. Contrary to the opinion of many publicists, the Web Exclusives channel under which these evaluations live is not a "ghetto" for books we've deemed unimportant; nor is it the Guantanamo Bay of our website, where were banish certain reviews for their suspect origins. Really and truly, this is intended as a showcase for highly anticipated and/or beguiling books; being selected for online inclusion means we want to get word out as soon as possible, often sooner than the print allows. Indeed, next Tuesday, our trusty Kurt Schulitz will post Donald McRae's starred Every Second Counts: The Race To Transplant the First Human Heart (Putnam) and Marjane Satrapi's Chicken with Plums (Pantheon), the follow-up to her hit graphic novels Persepolis and Persepolis II. See also Peter Bart's Boffo!, Janice Dickinson's Check, Please!, and Janet Evanovich's Twelve Sharp—not exactly literary chopped liver.
Still, there are those in publishing and the library world who argue that the good stuff is better off in print—the "important" people, the thinking goes, are more likely to pore over the actual magazine than navigate the web. That's a fair point given the admittedly clumsy design of our site (note: we're working on it), but it's one rooted in an age-old resistance to potentially fruitful change; in other words, a load of bullocks. Done and used right, online reviews could make all of our jobs easier. Librarians could order important titles earlier and faster through links to distributors, and publicists could spread quotes like wildfire via blogs and other channels. That being said, I know we in the bookroom are not getting it quite right. Not all of the web reviews meet our highly anticipated/beguiling standards; some, honestly, are just there because the reviewer turned in the write-up late or because the publishers submitted the galley late (yup, this happens a lot). Making matters worse is lingering in-house reluctance about important reviews getting "lost" in cyberspace, which I understand. So this call goes out to you librarians who have successfully incorporated the web into your workflow: How do you do it? How should we do it? There's free books in it for anyone who talks.—Heather McCormack