Hot on the heels of yet another newspaper book section closing, finally some news that at least one publishing company is starting to get it...
You're familiar with Penguin Classics, right? An imprint of famed British publisher Penguin, the Classics division offers up over 1,200 inexpensive paperback editions of...well, classics, literally everything from Edwin Abbot's Flatland to Emile Zola's The Debacle. (They publish a PDF too, by the way, listing each and every one of the titles; right-click here to download it yourself.) And now Penguin has decided to do something so audacious that it literally makes my jaw drop (and if you're a regular reader, you know how difficult it is to astonish me); they've decided to open a new website featuring reviews of each and every one of these books.
Zow! And this isn't even the most interesting news; the most interesting news is that they are asking Penguin's customers and the world's litbloggers to actually write these reviews, and that they'll be sending free books out to whoever ends up participating...and not only that, but are promising that they'll run the bad reviews right alongside the good ones as well. It's a pretty impressive announcement, I have to admit, and something that I hope will start showing other publishers that the future of literary criticism is really on the web among the various individuals and small groups out there, not the rapidly disappearing world of traditional newspapers and magazines.
Anyway, to express an interest, simply drop a line to blogapenguinclassic [at] penguin.co.uk and let them know; or of course you can check out the original entry at the Penguin blog for more. This is great, Penguin, great; I'm looking highly forward to seeing the first reviews start going up.
Oh, and a little trivia, for those who don't know: Penguin's very first distribution center, created on the eve of World War II, was in the crypt of a church. Can you even imagine?