Archive for the ‘Better Know…’ Category

Better Know…Booklist Online

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Today, I’d like to highlight a couple of things about Booklist Online, one of our most popular serials, because I didn’t realize just how much it offers until I started working with them on some projects. If you haven’t looked at the website lately, you may not have noticed that there are lots of RSS (syndication) icons dotting the home page. Even though you need a subscription in order to access the 115,000+ reviews, you can get a lot of content for free in your RSS feed reader. (If you’re not familiar with RSS and feed readers, you can learn more by watching this excellent RSS in Plain English video.)

In fact, you can take advantage of more than 30 different feeds, including the Review of the Day, which changes…every day (feed URL here). Otherwise, you can visit the BO site daily to read the current review. In addition, the bi-monthly columns are available for free on the site or via an RSS feed, so you don’t need a subscription to read At Leisure with Joyce Saricks, The Back Page, Carte Blanche, He Reads, She Reads, and The Manley Arts, as well as Read-alikes and the Top 10 Lists.

Then there’s also Keir Graff’s Likely Stories blog, a fun and witty take on the publishing and reviewing industries. Keir’s writing is so insightful he should be a bonafide author. Wait, he is.

And if you’re trying to track new awards as they’re announced, this is your lucky day because you can subscribe to 21 different feeds to be notified automatically when the new ones are announced, including the Newbery and Caldecott awards. No more wondering if you’ve missed an announcement – they’ll magically appear in your feed reader.

Two final things I want to highlight. One, Booklist has been hosting an online Book Club about “authors, books, and other literary topics.” The Downers Grove (IL) Public Library is partnering with them on it, but anyone can join in the discussions, including you.

Two, because we do sell access to the meat of Booklist Online (those thousands upon thousands of reviews), we felt we needed a syndication policy for all of those feeds. I wanted to share that here not just because there are some restrictions on the content (you can’t redisplay the feed somewhere else if you’re a commercial entity without requesting permission first, you can’t keep copies of the reviews in a database), but because we tried to find a balance that others could use as a model in case they’re in a similar situation. If that’s you, feel free to steal wholesale.

Basically, though, if you’re a library (or other nonprofit or even as an individual), you are welcome to re-display these feeds on your own web pages within the terms of that syndication policy. You can do so by using a syndication site such as Feed2JS (instructions here). The link to the most current Review of the Day will always be freely available and won’t require your users to log in to the site to read it.

Some fun facts about Booklist:

  • Booklist receives about 60,000 books and other media each year.
  • Of those, they review about 8,000 annually.
  • Nearly half of those are books for adults, about 2,500 are children’s and YA books, and the remainder are audiobooks, DVDs, and reference works (both print and online).
  • Who are the reviewers of Booklist? About 35% of our reviews are written by staff writers and editors, who have extensive field experience, mostly either as librarians or writers, and about 65% are written by freelancers. Our freelance pool is made up of people with professional reviewing experience (former book reviewer or library selector, for instance) or particular subject expertise (cookery or science, for instance).