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iPhone app aims to take up the slack left by disappearing book sections

July 26, 2010

Is it just me or is it ironic in here? Noting the pending extinction of newspaper book review sections, a California upstart company unveils an iPhone/iPad app that brings reviews of children’s and YA books literally into the palm of your hand. While you’re in the bookstore, if you like.

So the very technology that’s killing newspapers and magazines and now creeps up on the publishing industry, tail twitching, like a hungry tiger, can help you find a decent children’s book? Wonderful.

Oh, all right, I guess it is better than nothing. Called the Kids Book Review, the app is the brainchild of Heidi Komlofske and Ross Rojek of 1776 Productions in Sacramento, CA. The idea is to provide plentiful, reliable reviews of children’s titles on a continuing basis.

“Kids Book Review offers 800 new book reviews at launch, from the San Francisco Book Review and Sacramento Book Reviews,” Komlofske tells Book Publishing News. “We plan to upload about 100 new reviews every month to the app.”

Rojek and Komlofske launched 1776 in 2008 specifically to fill the void left by disappearing newspaper book review sections. The San Francisco Book Review and The Sacramento Book Review are print book reviews distributed free in their local areas.

Covering “more than 30 genres and categories,” 1776 Productions’ print publications aim to connect readers with new books and authors, according to the mission statement on its website, “in an easy-to-read, easy-to-find format.” Both book reviews are published monthly, with 32 pages devoted to author interviews, book features, local events and some 200 reviews of new books.

The new iPhone app is an extension of the company’s mission into the digital realm. The Kids Book Review app costs $1.99 to download, and includes reviews for children’s, tween and Young Adult books. For that one-time fee, users will have a growing data base of book reviews and recommendations.

“No matter where you are shopping for books, if you see a book you are intrigued with,” says Rojek, “all you have to do is power up your iPhone and tap into Kids Book Review for solid book information. Additionally, if you read a review you like, you can easily put in your favorites folder to find quickly when you are ready to buy it or check it out from the library.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean permalink
    July 26, 2010 1:52 pm

    Are they also linking to e-books? Just wondering. It sounds like 1776 wants an optimal balance between print and electronic and to prove that if one forum for consideration of literature goes away, others can be viable.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      July 26, 2010 2:30 pm

      Yes, distasteful though electronic literature can be, I applaud their effort to keep the reviewing professional alive. Contrary to what writers have believed since the dawn of time, without reviewers, book culture, reduced to an echo chamber, will wither and die.

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