Saturday, June 28, 2008

Review Outside the Mainstream

Blogging Anaheim Button

Focus on Collection Management and Technical Services
Collection Development

As a librarian, I use the typical tools to order books and other materials for the library. These tools include a subscriptions to Booklist, Choice, and Library Journal. I also like to read The New York Times Book Review in which writers are asked to review each others' works.

Since blogging, I now will order a book based on a trusted blogger's recommendation. This is rather radical behavior for a librarian. I am currently sitting in this conference room wondering if any others rebels sit near.

Ah, the room is silent. All waiting with coffee breath. Our leaders are Kevin King from Kalamazoo Public Library, Dr. Bob Holley from Wayne State University, and Jane Jorgenson from Madison (WI) Public Library.

Kevin, first to speak, advocates a handful or websites and blogs.

Diamond Bookshelf - Largest distributor of comic books. This web page has a list of starter collections with discounts for first time users. They provide an area for reader reviews, list of bestsellers within Graphic Novels and Manga, upcoming releases broken down by age group, and a new releases. They cater to commercial sellers, but they also like us librarians.

Comics Worth Reading - Graphic Novel, Manga, and comic book recommendations, news, and reviews with attitude by Johanna Draper Carlson. This female blogger slants her reporting to the snarky and funny side. Kevin says, "Girls are starting to really enjoy comics." She provides a list of her reviews of comics written by women.

No Flying, No Tights - Is a librarian's blog with reviews for graphic novels. Robin Brenner breaks her reviews into age appropriate comic books. Site was last update April 14, 2008, and the posts says it is being renovated. Stay tuned... - A Graphic Novel Explosion. Pull the Pin! An independent comics site, Jessica Abel (Queen of Indie Comics) provides a PDF on how to read a graphic novel.

Comic Book Resources -CBR Message boards, upcoming comics, news, and great place for reviews. Kevin says, "Comic book collators are of the same genetic code as librarians." The audience snicker as they agree.

Newsarama - Editor, Kevin Smith aka Silent Bob, provides snarky commentary, interviews, and editor's choice.

Note: New York City hosts a comic convention and librarians can go for free the first day!

Kevin ends with this advice, "The best place to go [for buying suggestions] is the local comic store and chat with the book store guy or fangirls." It is better to flip through and see the boobies before you purchase from BroadArt and spend money on pre-ship processing.

Jane, second to speak, is the administrator of MadReads blog. She began by asking us if we use the normal book review tools such as Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus, etc. Did we use New York Times Book Review or Entertainment Weekly as alternatives? She offers up some blogs and web sites as more alternatives.

Book Slut - The blogger writes reviews for fiction and non-fiction. She post daily with book news, interviews, and review; plus, provides an archived database.

Book Sense name changed to Indie Bound- A web site run by independent book sellers provides a monthly newsletter, reviews by bookstore owners, archived, and lists like summer reading suggestions.

SF Site - Lots of reviews, best list, awards list, archives, forums (not that active), and interviews.

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind - A professional literary critic for mysteries and true crime.

The Mystery Reader & The Romance Reader - Both web sites functional since the 1990s, they contain great content, regular reviews, starred reviews, sub-genres, etc..

Dear Author - Six women run the cite (one is an Asst. Atty General in Iowa). They provide multiply reviews, lots and lots commentary, Nora Roberts likes to pop in and chat. Great for buzz!

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books - A group of snarky women who are very sensitive to non-romance readers. Their blog generates 4-5 hundred comments a week!

All about Romance - This web site has over 8000 reviews that are searchable through a database. There have been 30 -40 reviewers over the years with a rating system. They no longer review books which generate four Ds or an F.
Reading Rants (web site) & Bookshelves of Doom (blog) - Reviews for teen books.

Library Thing - Shelfari - Good Reads - All provide user (laymen) generated reviews.

Dr. Bob Holley, the last presenter, is an avid gamer and collector of PC games.

He begins, "If you want to buy games for your collection it is difficult!" Which platform are you going to collect? Wii Playstation, Atari, Mac, PC, etc.? Different PC games function with different operating systems such as Dos, Vista, etc.. Console games come with one machine that does all the work for just a couple of games. The DEMAND for popular games such as half life and tomb raider can be expensive!

In Dr. Holley's research he has found that there are two different levels of quality in the gaming industry. Level one includes producers such as Blizzard, Capcom, Sierra, Sony, etc.. Level two includes clones of popular games in which reviews may be hard to find.

General Issues w/ reviews of computer games - Dr. Holley stops to emphasis, "Bad games are more annoying than bad books or CDs." Reviewing games must take into consideration age aprropriateness, ratings, digital rights, content descriptions, and genres.

Entertainment Software Rating Board - Warning! They do not play the games, they rely on the producers of the games to rate them. These ratings are not supported by ALA. - All these are supported by the gaming industry and have daily newsletters! Carries all the major platforms for one stop shopping. The site is browsable with review pages, teen reviews, unreal vs. real, summary info on technical issues, list of dealers, and prices.

IGN - Is an independent online reviewing source. (At this point, I began to get really sick. The chills were causing my legs to shake even though I was anchored by a hot laptop. Dr. Holley, although an accomplished speaker, began to slur in my mind. You will find I didn't give him the same focused attention. Sorry, Dr. Bob!)

Moby Games- An excellent game review and documentation site that is librarian friendly. They discuss older games and second tier games; plus, provide information for those libraries interested in building a historical collection.

Publications outside the norm include Yahoo and PC Gamer. Dr. Holley states, "PCs are declining and consoles are becoming more popular." Normal tools such as Library Journal are now reviewing games.

BIG *Thumbs Down* to Amazon (I didn't get why, sorry)

All sites have free access with downloadable playable demos, video shots, and movies clips.

Dr. Holley also advises the use of sales figures to see what is popular. Pole your community to see if a Wii collection is feasable. Another barrier to collecting games involves the processing of these items. For example, PSP cases are different than CDs with some as big as postage stamps. Downloadable games are too hard to circulate. Replacement costs tend to be pricier than the new cost. Sometimes it is better to wait to buy b/c new games are way expensive. The trend is to see it offered for say $60 then half price at $30 then a jump to bargain price at $5. Sometimes one can get older releases for just shipping and handling...

If you do collect games, you will find quirks that drive the price up. For example, historically rock groups have written and played for certain games and nothing else. These are expensive to collect.

I want to thank all the presenters for there time and talents. The program was timely, informative, and fun!

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