Indulge me for a minute to answer a question: What’s the purpose of a book review?
I’m sure a few things come to mind, but notice how your answer relates to your role in the book industry—author, publisher, bookseller, acquisition librarian, reader. As you can see, everyone wants something a little different out of a review. Which begs another question: As a review journal, how can we possibly make all of our readers happy? We can’t, of course, which is a good reminder not to take ourselves too seriously.
Howard Lovy, our executive editor, hires, trains, and mostly praises the superb seventy-five reviewers who write for us on a freelance basis. And with our audience of librarians and booksellers in his mind’s eye, he’s always pushing for reviews that can stand alone as informative works of entertainment. Use the book to write about something larger, he preaches, to explore why the topic is important, to make this four-hundred-word thing a pleasure to read even if the reader doesn’t care a whit about the book or subject.
Every book participates in a much bigger conversation—philosophical, existential, frivolous, et al—one that each individual author seeks to join with a unique, influential voice. Here at Foreword, we’re very aware that we, also, factor into some of those conversations, in that we choose to review certain books and certain topics over others, and thus point the discourse in any direction we deem important.
Perhaps I exaggerate our influence, but in every issue of the magazine, we work very hard to select 180 books to review, books of great interest, books that will appeal to as broad an audience as possible. And just as we strive to find new, talented authors and publishers, we’re also committed to spotlighting certain genres that seem not to get the attention they deserve in other review journals: Poetry. Climate Change. Translation. Short Stories. Philosophy. Essays. Photography. Graphic Novels. So wander a bit in this issue; there will be some fantastic books everywhere you look.
And how about Kyrsten Bean, rocking out on our cover? She’s just one more mold-breaking librarian living out her rock-star dreams. Well, Kyrsten, you can count us as fans.
Matt Sutherland is Managing Editor at Foreword Reviews. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.