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Our blog is a catalog of analysis and opinion about literature, digital publishing, and ereader technology, focusing especially on how issues and developments in these fields relate to readers.
Our blog does not intend to be a comprehensive news source, or a place where we repost every book-related article or blog post we come across. Instead, we want to provide a filtered stream of book- and ebook-related news and conjecture, a collection of entertaining and insightful thoughts on reading, and advocacy for readers in a publishing world that does not put readers first.
We welcome your own opinions, too, of course. Please comment often, or you can email us directly here.
Primarily, you should expect to be able to find books that you, specifically, will enjoy. We think most book reviews are ill-suited to actually finding books that individual people will enjoy reading, so we’re creating our own review database specifically for that purpose.
We rate every book according to three categories: Language, Entertainment, and Depth. We do this so you can see at a glance what kind of book it is, and whether it’s the kind you want to read right now. There’s a big difference between a light page-turner (low language, high entertainment, low depth) and a literary novelist’s complex historical drama (high language, medium entertainment, high depth). The ratings also let you know if the book is good or not.
Our reviews themselves are quick and light, and focus primarily on whether the reviewer liked the book and why. If the reviewer didn’t like it, he or she will also theorize who might like it, and what the strengths of the book are (even if there are few).
There are times you want to read James Wood analyze a new novel in-depth for 2000 words; James Wood is phenomenal at that. But there are other times you just want to find a good book, and that’s what we’re trying to do with our reviews.
We also include links to a few similar books with each review. These are handpicked by the reviewer and don’t necessarily imply a recommendation of every similar book, just that it’s similar. The idea is that if you like the book reviewed, you can easily find a few others like it (and vice versa).
When we first started, ebook prices were all over the place. Now, though the system is still a mess, prices are at least reaching relative parity across most retailers. On top of that, so many ereaders have hit the market with various format restrictions (many proprietary), that price shopping isn’t always available to users.
This is why we never listed the Kindle Store: because there was not much point. Kindle users can only buy DRMed books from the Kindle Store. (Kindle users can also buy non-DRMed Mobis from Fictionwise.com.)
Our best ebook deal listing was intended to help people who had a choice in where they buy (or whether they borrow) their ebooks; since Kindlers don’t have this choice, they can’t really compare prices. Nook and iPad owners will probably find themselves in the same situation with the B&N store and the iBookstore.
Just remember: when possible, the best ebook deal is always at the library.
A Great Read is simply a book that the reviewer really liked and would recommend very highly to friends and family. It doesn’t have any ratings benchmarks–it doesn’t have to score an 8 in all rating categories for instance. It’s simply a book that someone loved. Read the review to find out why.
We’ve also started a special tag called babytown frolics. This is meant to signify the opposite of a Great Read, a bad book that probably should never have been produced at all. At C4 we’ll occasionally take a book to task, but we primarily want to focus on the enjoyment of good books, so it doesn’t have its own section. You can find the tag in our tag cloud, or by clicking here.
We think ebooks are the way of the not-to-distant future. Right now it is a young industry struggling to free itself from the entrenched business models of paper publishing. As writers and readers ourselves, we’re very interested in how developments in epublishing will shape the next stage of literary culture in America and the world.
So this website aims to be a way to stay abreast of developments in epublishing, a way to find new books to read, and, eventually, a launching point for writers to distribute their own work with most of the advantages of paper publishing, but with the added advantage of circumventing their soon-to-be-archaic way of distributing.
Bound books have played an integral role in civilization for centuries, and that won’t change any time soon. There will be a place for paper books in our world for a long time to come (nothing could supplant the new book smell), but we believe mainstream bookselling and academic text delivery will migrate to a primarily digital model in the near future. We think this is a good thing; when everyone has a means of accessing etext (for books, newspapers, office documents, you name it) at the ready, the lower cost of distribution will completely revamp the way the publishing industry does business. Along the way, this will also drastically change the way writers write and readers read.