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Page 2 American Book Review Page 2 Two years ago, we launched a feature in the American Book Review called “LineOnLine.” It first appeared in our January/February 2008 issue, the focus of which was “Dangerous Books.” The feature contained six reviews that were published exclusively online. Three of the reviews were from our editors—Kevin Prufer, Corrine Robins, and Doug Nufer—and one of the books that we reviewed was a recent novel from a longtime contributing editor, Steve Katz. Publishing some reviews exclusively online did not seem momentous at the time. But it created a new service, and readers wanted more. Whereas in the past, ABR would feature on its website two reviews from our print edition, LineOnLine offered readers material different from that which was to be found in the print edition. It gave print readers a reason to go to and use our website—and it gave online readers a reason to seek out a print edition of ABR. In addition, the decision to offer reviews exclusively online allowed us to publish many more reviews in each issue without a sizeable, concomitant increase in production cost. Before the advent of LineOnLine, ABR had virtually no Internet presence with regard to content. While reproducing a review or two from each issue and making them available on the ABR website has been the practice for a number of years now, such reviews decidedly functioned as nothing more than “content teasers” aimed at luring the online world back into the print world: if the digital reader wanted to read more reviews, then the print issue was pretty much her only recourse. However, after the advent of LineOnLine, the amount of ABR material available online greatly increased. Now there were not only two digitally reproduced reviews from each print edition, but also six to eight additional reviews offered exclusively online. The result would be that those who went to our website over the course of a year (or a volume) would find almost sixty book reviews. Given that any one issue of ABR contains no more than thirty reviews and that we publish six issues per year, this meant that the equivalent of one-third of our publishing output was now freely available to anyone with access to the Internet. The significance of this cannot be emphasized enough. Online availability of ABR content meant that anyone with access to the Internet could check out ABR. Moreover, doing so was no more difficult at home than abroad: a writer in China interested in American fiction, for example, could read ABR book reviews just as readily as a writer in Chicago. In fact, one of the great pleasures I have had over the past few years is introducing students, faculty, and individuals across the US and the world to ABR via our website. Few things can equal, for example, sharing the world of ABR with a group of students in Cairo on a computer in their university library or opening up some of our reviews for faculty in Rio to peruse. With this increased online access to ABR, there has come a demand for even more. Not only do more people have access to the Internet than have subscriptions to ABR, but far more people seem to prefer digital access over print—especially if there is no cost associated with it. Online access matters are further compounded by the fact that our website includes a link to the covers and tables of contents of every issue of ABR going back to volume 1, number 1. This means that anyone in the world with access to our website can scroll through the table of contents of any issue; they can also find out through the “Search” feature on our website, for example, every book from David Foster Wallace that we have reviewed, and every review written by Joyce Carol Oates for us. With a distinguished catalogue of reviews and reviewers going back some thirty years, and easy, searchable access to the title of every Focus, review, and article that we have ever published, it should not come as a big surprise that interest in complete digital access to this material has spiked. How...


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Print ISSN
pp. 2-11
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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