October/November 2012

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Page 10 of 75

Editor's Notes Trust These Reviews! Book reviews rarely make national news, but it was first exciting, then discouraging to read "The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy" in The New York Times on August 25, 2012. Technology reporter David Streitfeld exposed the ways reader reviews have been created or manipulated to market books. Consumer reviews have had a powerful allure, wrote Streitfeld, since they are not advertising or marketing per se. "Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service." Not being a cynical person, I was startled, dismayed, then determined to reassure AudioFile's readers that our reviewers are real people in every sense, and that our reviewers aim to deliver an honest report of the strengths and/or weaknesses of each audiobook we review. I've often shared with library and publishing professionals the guidelines we give our reviewers. But now I feel compelled to reassure you, our readers, that you can trust the reviewers whose initials you see in AudioFile. Their initials (see page 11) are the key to the signatures on each of their audiobook reviews you find in print or online. Tom Walken brings us the "Learning By Ear" reviews (page 56) because of his longtime interest in personal and spiritual development and motivational pro- grams. Archa Wachowicz, a declared foodie, often reviews biographies of chefs (Dearie, page 38), as well as food and travel titles. Mohana Rajakumar, a South Asian American writer and educational consultant to Qatar University, reviews fiction reflecting multiple cultures The Taliban Cricket Club, page 26). In 1992 when I started AudioFile as a review journal for librarians, many of our first reviewers were librarians. Some, like Miriam Kahn, Susan Baird, and Sharon Grover, are still with us! But our current gang of reviewers, about 120, encompasses many fields—librarians, authors, teachers, editors, theater directors, reporters—whose professional lives intersect in some way with books and publishing. Some reviewers' day jobs are unrelated (science, law, ranching, sales), but our common bond is a passion for listening. When I assign reviews, I feel like a matchmaker because I want to give the right audiobook to the right reviewer, and it would make little sense to ask a reviewer whose favorite genre is romantic suspense to review the lat- est World War II history. Careful assignments to a variety of reviewers is the key to our success—and the only way we can reflect the far-ranging inter- ests and subject preferences of listeners who rely on AudioFile for guidance. A year ago in AudioFile, I wrote about why independent reviews matter to the discerning listener (see October/November 2011, page 12), and now, with suspicion focused on some online reader reviews, I want you to know that AudioFile is sticking to our standards. We ask all reviewers to give us honest evaluations—and we get them. AudioFile Reviews Print Magazine • 120 reviews each issue Web-Published Reviews • 300 additional new reviews published to Web site Archive • 30,000 searchable audiobook reviews at Robin Whitten Editor and Founder Editor's Picks • Monthly e-newsletter October/November 2012 s 9 Photo by Kevin Brusie

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