You think publishing and libraries have it bad? Talk to the newspapers.
After 150 years of award-winning reporting, Denver’s Rocky Mountain News shut its doors in 2009. Shortly after that, I happened to meet with Patti Thorn, who had been the highly respected chief book critic of the Rocky, and served as editor of the book review pages. We talked about what we agreed was a trend to be watched: the rise of self-publishing.
Like many reviewers and editors, she was frank about the often abysmal quality of many of the works then coming out. Yes, libraries and readers needed to be aware of a new stream of content. But how were they to separate the jewels from the sand? What was needed, she thought, was a new service, focusing on just this emerging literature, but holding it up to the highest critical standards.
With Patricia Moosbrugger, a literary agent who represents several New York Times bestselling authors, she then formed BlueInk Review. With a stable of other very accomplished, very credible critics and reviewers, they sift through the torrent of self-published works to help libraries find the best selections.
Let me be blunt: I think every public library in America should track their recommendations, and buy them. The list isn’t overwhelming. Generally, BlueInk Review compiles a monthly list of about 10 curated titles. They also offer email alerts when authors in a library’s region have earned Starred Reviews—a great way to stay on top of talent in your own backyard.
The service is free to libraries, and you’re not obligated to buy anything. To sign up, click here.
Note, too, that their reviews are highly respected not just by me, but by the industry generally; you’ll find them in Ingram’s iPage and Oasis databases. Most of the books can also be purchased (in print if not necessarily as ebooks, which is a whole ’nother topic) through usual channels.
I’m sure we’ll see many new batches of review for the fastest-growing stream of new content. But BlueInk was one of the first, and remains one of the best.
JAMES LARUE writes, speaks, and consults about the future of libraries. He can be reached at jlarue[at]jlarue.com.