One year ago, as newspapers across the country were stopping the presses, one brave couple dove in head-first. That’s when Heidi Komlofske and Ross Rojek started a little publication called Sacramento Book Review. Just as the LA Times was closing their book review, this Sacramento couple was starting theirs.
Crazy? Perhaps. As Rojek reached out to publishing companies in search of books to review, one publicist bellowed, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What idiot starts a book review in this economy?” The idiot savants went on to publish 115 reviews in that first September 2008 issue. Today, the company boasts 100 book reviewers, and this month they started their second publication, San Francisco Book Review.
At a time when folks seem to be turning more toward home-cooked meals, family movie rental night, gardening, and other Ã¢â‚¬Å“old fashioned,Ã¢â‚¬Â Â low-cost methods of close-to-home entertainment, it seems natural that a free publication all about the time-honored tradition of reading might be a popular way to spend a Saturday morning. Also at a time when library use has spiked, the rise of this book-bound publication makes sense.
For folks like Komolofske and Rojek, who grew up riding their bikes to the public library to check out stacks of books, having a book review at the ready can make light work of combing book shelves. At the beginning of each month, the couple says their phone lines start to burn with calls from avid readers anxiously awaiting the next issue. Sometimes, the requests are serious, like the reader who had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She remembered reading a book review on the subject and was hoping to get a copy of the back issue.
When asked about the secret of their success, the owners claim that it’s all local. It’s a community publication running reviews by area writers reading hometown authors (when available). You’ll also find local listings of upcoming bookie events and author citings.
Whatever their secret, it seems to be working. The one-year anniversary issue hits Sacramento on September 3. For a list of distribution sites, check their website.
And for the sake of transparency, you’ll find some of my reviews there, too. It’s one of my volunteer gigs. One more reason to run out and grab a copy while they last!