the complete review Quarterly
Volume V, Issue 1   --   February, 2004

State of the Site - page 3

Annual Report for
complete review - 2003

page 1 | page 2

III. Critical and Popular Response

        i. General

       What feedback we get suggests a general satisfaction with and interest in the offerings of the complete review, the main source of disappointment being that we have not reviewed book X or author Y. (As we always explain: there are an incredible number of worthy authors and books, and we have too few resources to cover them all, much as we'd like to. But we try our best.)

       There were several media mentions of the complete review in 2003, but almost all focussed on our Literary Saloon weblog.

       User-feedback (in e-mails to us, or in commentary at other weblogs) regarding specific reviews was essentially negligible, with only a handful of reviews eliciting any comments.

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        ii. the Literary Saloon

       In a year in which weblogging attracted considerable notice, the Literary Saloon also found mention in numerous media outlets. Among them were: mention in a Rediff Guide to the Net feature, Between the Covers (regarding literary weblogs) and a mention in the ultimate issue of Book (the former generated an impressive amount of traffic, the latter practically none). Print-media mentions include one in the 2 November Ottawa Citizen, as well as in the 19/26 December Times Literary Supplement (where J.C. describes it as: "estimable")
       Most mentions of the Literary Saloon were, of course, found at other weblogs, as part of the usual back and forth and cross-linking that goes on. It is noteworthy that the Literary Saloon seems to have gotten a reputation for being "serious" (as opposed to the apparently more jocular tone and approach found elsewhere) -- as also noted most recently in David Sexton's 20 January 2004 article in The Scotsman, where he finds the Literary Saloon to be "One of the most conscientious, if humourless" literary weblogs. We can live with that.

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IV. Other

       i. 'Blurbs'

       To our knowledge there were no titles published in 2003 that used a quote from the complete review as a blurb (the first year that this has not happened).

       ii. Links

       The possibility of linking to reviews at other sites, especially the Internet sites of print-media publications, continues to shrink. Among the major casualties in 2003 were Salon (though older reviews there remain freely accessible), The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times, and the German newspaper, Die Welt.
       Nevertheless, there are still many review fora that remain open and accessible, and there are few current titles for which we are unable to find other reviews to link to.

       iii. User Inquiries

       The most common reason for users to contact the complete review in 2003 was to request and demand that we review their books. While a significant portion of user-inquiries have always been from authors seeking coverage for their titles, it has never been so dominant.
       Fortunately -- and somewhat surprisingly -- commands (usually by students) that we review a specific book for them have become relatively rare. But many users still make unreasonable demands, most often that we put them in contact with authors (something we are almost always unable to do). And there are always suggestions as to what books and authors we might (or must) want to have look at.

       iv. Finances

       The financial situation at the complete review remains, as always, precarious. Nevertheless, revenue easily outpaced expenditures in 2003, and for the first time we have a cash surplus of sufficient size as to actually be meaningful (i.e. we can actually consider spending it in a way to improve the site). (Previous surpluses amounted to little more than petty cash which sufficed to buy the occasional cup of coffee and the like.)
       Our primary source of revenue remained our links and the commissions we receive for purchases made by users there. Many did (and we appreciate it greatly).
       A secondary, if still small, source of income was from the advertising we've put on our site, as part of the Google AdSense programme. Adverts were added to the site starting 15 July. The results were relatively disappointing, but they do make for a welcome constant trickle of additional revenue. (We're not sure how much use and/or interest (and/or of an annoyance) they are to users of the site, but we've registered fewer complaints regarding them than we receive for our links.)
       Finally, we did receive one contribution in response to our appeal for support for the site (much appreciated) -- though overall we haven't had much success in soliciting contributions, etc. (However, by early 2004 we already received another generous contribution, so maybe that trend will change.)

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V. Outlook

       We do not foresee any major changes at the site in 2004.

       In terms of what we expect to review in 2004, the coverage should be of a similar mix of books as in previous years. We will make a greater effort to cover more older titles, including from antiquity, as well as to continue providing more coverage of authors already under review.

       The targets for 2004 are to add 172 reviews (to reach the nice round total of 1300) and six author pages (for a total of 50) to the complete review.

       The other sections of the complete review seem to serve their functions well, and will likely also continue as previously (though we hope that we can add material to cr Fiction at a faster rate than in 2003). The Literary Saloon seems to have developed a devoted core audience, and we will continue to offer the same mix of material as in 2003.

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