Tule Publishing is thrilled to have Bette-Lee Fox from Library Journal on our blog today! Welcome, Bette-Lee!
1. Tell us a bit about Library Journal Xpress Reviews.
Library Journal has been posting Xpress Reviews for many years, generally every week, initially as an outlet for those late-arriving titles or embargoed works (fiction and nonfiction) that would have been way past publication date if we saved them for one of our 20 print issues. But in 2011 it became clear that ebooks were taking off beyond anyone’s imagination, with romance being the top genre among ebook readers.
Suddenly, there were all of these e-only romances available, and no one was reviewing them. Call it a challenge or an opportunity, but LJ jumped in where other major review publications feared to tread. So in August 2011, we included E-Original Reviews (all romances) to our Xpress Reviews postings. We approached our existing book reviewers, mostly librarians, who were amenable to reading ebooks and e-galleys to get the ball rolling and have added others along the way. Traditional publishers now release e-exclusive titles and new companies, such as Tule, have formed around the e-only model. With the abundance of titles out there, having professional reviews available allows readers to be more informed about their choices. And with libraries now including ebooks in their collections, it’s a win-win for librarians and library customers.
2. Other than reading LJ Xpress reviews, what are other ways you recommend readers find their next romance?
Library Journal also publishes a print Romance column six times a year that focuses on print titles. It is written by librarian emerita Kristin Ramsdell, an expert in the genre and author of several reference works on romance publishing. It was a bold move when LJ began romance coverage in 1994, but we’ve never looked back. GoodReads is an online site that features many romance titles. And by now, the other library publications are regularly reviewing romance as well.
3. In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit of the digital age of reading?
Sheer volume. I prefer having a print book in my hand, but I can see the benefit to downloading dozens of titles onto a reader and being set for any occasion. Accommodating multiple print books into a suitcase for a conference or a vacation is a weighty (literal) occupation. Having the ability to carry a loaded reader (or phone) makes for more options. The ebook experience is a different one from print, but romance fans are voracious, so there is no such thing as too much of a good thing.
4. What’s the best thing about working in the romance genre?
Selfishly, I get to read as many of my favorite romance authors as I can squeeze into my life because the galleys for review funnel through my office. Attending Romance Writers of America conferences has put me in touch with many of these authors, and I am constantly awestruck by their talent, generosity, and kindness. I consider many of these writers and their editors and publicists to be friends, and that puts a smile on my face every day.
5. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Being able to discover new authors and their works ahead of most other people and then recommend them to colleagues and friends. I never seem to get ahead of my TBR (to be read) list, but having such a rich and deep well of titles at my fingertips can’t be beat. Knowing that libraries will discover those authors and recommend them to their patrons is pretty fabulous as jobs go. And I love every minute of it.
Celebrating her 45th year with Library Journal, Managing Editor Bette-Lee Fox also edits LJ‘s Video Reviews, Romance column (a staple of the magazine since 1994), quarterly Erotica column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. A Brooklyn native, Bette-Lee attended her first RWA annual meeting in 2004 as a guest, and it was about that time that she began editing LJ’s Romance reviews column. Winner of the 2013 RWA Vivian Stephens Industry Award, she has participated in several panels at RWA on subjects ranging from reviewing to library collections, has spoken at a Novelists Inc. meeting in New Orleans, has presented at a Staff Development Program about Romance at the Brooklyn Public Library, keynoted the Long Island Romance Writers annual luncheon in 2014, moderated a romance panel at BookExpo America (BEA), and led the inaugural Library Journal Day of Dialog Romance panel, also as part of BEA. She is proud to call herself a romance fan and to be associated with this wonderful community of writers and readers.