Volume IV, Issue 1 -- February, 2003
State of the Site
Annual Report for
the complete review - 2002
- The Site
- Traffic, Search Engines, Search Queries
- Links from Other Sites
- Popularity and Interest:
- Links to Amazon
- Amazon.com - US
- Amazon.com.uk - UK
- Amazon.fr - France
- Amazon.de - Germany
- Author Pages
- Articles from the complete review Quarterly
- Other Information-pages at the Complete Review
- Critical and Popular Response
- i. General
- ii. the Literary Saloon
I. Overviewi. The site
The complete review went online, at www.complete-review.com, on March 31, 1999. By the end of 2000 a total of 529 reviews were available, by the end of 2001 there were 750. Growth of the site increased fairly steadily over the course of 2002:
The goal of adding 175 reviews (to make a total of 925 reviews available by the end of 2002) was reached almost exactly -- exceeded only by about 5 percent (184 reviews were added).
Books under Review Month Total
January, 2002 766 February 785 March 801 April 814 May 832 June 844 July 864 August 882 September 896 October 907 November 921 December 934
Ten author pages were also added over the course of the year, bringing the total to 37 at the end of 2002.
Reviews covered the usual broad spectrum. The main focus was on fiction but considerable attention was also paid to other genres. The only trend of any note has been an increased effort on our part to review additional titles by authors already under review. In addition, we were modestly successful (especially towards the end of the year) in finally adding more titles that are more than a few years old. (We also managed to cover more big-name, brand-new books too, though we weren't quite as pleased about that.)
Review highlights (books we are especially pleased to have reviewed (especially those which were not widely reviewed elsewhere) -- though these were not necessarily our most useful reviews) include:
A fair number of the year's most discussed (and even best-selling) books were also covered at the complete review (and these certainly were among our most useful reviews), including:
- The final three of Ann Quin's four published works
- Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia
- Louis Couperus' Psyche
- Arno Schmidt's The School for Atheists
- Samantha Power's "A Problem from Hell"
- Much of the work of Durs Grünbein
- Muhammad 'Ali Naqib al-Mamalik's Amir Arsalan
The site also expanded considerably in 2002, officially launching cr Fiction in February and the Literary Saloon (a weblog) in August. While both enjoy a certain popularity, they remain peripheral to the site and have not contributed significantly to attracting new traffic.
- Richard Posner's Public Intellectuals
- Stephen Carter's The Emperor of Ocean Park
- Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex
- Donna Tartt's The Little Friend
- Ian McEwan's Atonement
- Michael Crichton's Prey
- Scott Turow's Reversible Errors
cr Fiction (or rather the one work currently available there, Inquest) has grown steadily but slightly less quickly than expected.
The Literary Saloon has proven to be a useful complement to the rest of the site, allowing for book coverage that does not fit elsewhere on the site.
A computer meltdown in October did not affect user-enjoyment of the site but was a hassle for the complete review-staff, and delayed the posting of a considerable amount of material. (We're still getting it all sorted out.) Access to the site itself was available with almost no disruption throughout the year.
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ii. Traffic, Search Engines, Search Queries
Traffic to the complete review increased considerably in 2002. Especially pleasing was the increase in unique daily visitors -- up over 93 percent over the previous year.
Traffic at the site as a whole followed the now-predictable pattern: slight growth from the beginning of the year to a peak in May, then a reasonably steady flow of summer traffic before a period of rapid growth from September through mid-December, when user-interest plummets over the Christmas-New Years holiday.
- Review-page-views were up 61 percent (while the number of review pages available increased 25 percent).
- Author-page-views were up 79 percent (while the number of author pages available increased 37 percent).
- crQuarterly-page-views were up 90 percent (while the number of crQ pages available increased by roughly 50 percent).
There was steady, if limited, interest in cr Fiction.
The Literary Saloon showed impressive growth in its first weeks, but interest actually peaked in October: ambitions (and expectations) of averaging 100 unique visitors daily by year's end were not met. Traffic to the weblog depended heavily on whether the current stories were of topical interest, and the weblog benefited from frequent (and rapid) indexing by Google. Still, it appeared to reach a saturation-point of only about 70 users daily.
Surprisingly, though total page views (and daily averages) were up by significant amounts in all page-view categories, there were no new single-day highs in page-view totals. The best were:
(At least one new high was then set soon enough -- our review of Lolita had 289 page-views on 1 January 2003.)
- Reviews: 238 pages - The Unquiet Grave by Cyril Connolly (10 May)
- Author Pages: 189 pages - Patrick White (11 August)
- Article at the cr Quarterly: 274 pages - Borrower Economics (28 June)
Search engines -- and in particular Google -- drove the most traffic to the complete review. No other source (links on other sites, press coverage, etc.) provided anywhere near as much traffic.
Search-engine coverage was good throughout the year -- far better than it has ever been. Google began to update and add our pages in a much more timely fashion about mid-way through the year, and page-views of new and topical titles increased dramatically because of this. (Previously it often took a month for Google to index new reviews.) Among the major search engines MSN Search remains a near-useless laggard -- though it has finally added most of our pages (but still brings in almost no traffic).
The status of the complete review at various search engines at the end of 2002 was as follows (the number of pages available listed is the number that were available on 1 January, 2003):
The most popular search engine queries that led users to the complete review were:
- All the Web - 1146 pages available
- Alta Vista - 1163 pages
- Google - 1220 pages
- MSN Search - 899 pages
- Teoma - ca. 1000 pages
- king leopold's ghost
- big girls and big women
- fast food nation
- a prayer for owen meany
- arcadia tom stoppard and arcadia stoppard
- am kürzeren ende der sonnenallee
- the professor and the madman
- anatomy of melancholy
- amelie nothomb and amélie nothomb
- harry mulisch
- cynthia ozick
- yasmina reza
- patrick white
- zbigniew herbert
- geoffrey hill
- iain sinclair
- annie ernaux
- antonio tabucchi
- cees nooteboom
- haruki murakami and murakami haruki
- alasdair gray
- miroslav holub
- tom stoppard
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iii. Links from Other Sites
Many sites link to the complete review. Many are directories of book review sites, but there are also a fair number of other sites and pages that provide links to specific reviews and author pages at the complete review (and articles at the complete review Quarterly).
The number of links to the complete review as listed at various search engines at the end of 2002 was as follows (the number of links listed is the number that were found on 1 January, 2003; note that many of these are essentially duplicates):
Most sites that linked to the complete review continued to provide only a very small amount of traffic. In comparison to the traffic that arrived via search engines all link-traffic was, as in previous years, almost negligible. Among the few that provided any sort of significant traffic was Arts & Letters Daily (from which the complete review was de-listed last year, but re-listed this year), the Yahoo ! Book Review directory, and refdesk.com.
- All the Web - 3018 pages linking to the complete review
- Alta Vista - 1471 pages
- Google - 82 pages at 38 sites
- MSN - 97 pages
Aside from occasional links in specific mentions, several weblogs included the Literary Saloon in their links-lists. By 31 December 2002 the following had:
- Joe Blogs (from the folks at 3 AM)
- Maud Newton
- Open Brackets - lost in translation
- Pathologically Polymathic - Danny Yee's blog
- Private Ink
- The Shamrockshire Eagle
- splinters - the spikemagazine.com weblog
- Sys*blog meaningless:profundity
- wood s lot
There were several links to the complete review at major publications in 2002, including at The Observer and the Telegraph site. None led to any significant traffic. A 16 July mention at Wired.com also did not bring any significant traffic. And a nice site-review at Lire, up since August, brought in ... 76 hits.
Links to specific complete review-reviews are still rarely found at many other book review sites, though a few more appeared in 2002. Danny Yee's Book Reviews began adding some links to reviews, and BiblioReview.com has started an impressive review-link collection.
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