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As regular visitors to The Review have surely noticed, I have never permitted Internet advertising on our website, and have no plans to change this policy in the future. I regard typical display ads as garish, distracting, and totally wasteful of screen space, while sometimes greatly increasing the load time of pages. Plus these days they generate negligible revenue. Why would any rational publisher allocate 20% of his screen real estate to annoying ads that merely cover 5% of his operational expenses?
However, there is one special exception to this general rule, and I’m sure people have noticed that over the last couple of days our website has begun running advertisements for books, books that were either written by our regular contributors or are otherwise closely related to the topics our website covers. Initially the selection of books has been quite limited, but as time goes by we will surely expand our coverage. And since Amazon pays our website a small commission on any books or other items purchased, this allows readers a very convenient means of supporting our website and its writers, without the irritation of fundraising drives or similar interruptions.
These promoted books are presented in several different ways. First, both the Home page and the standard Sidebars now display three books randomly drawn from our featured set, with the “Read Me” buttons providing access to those of our articles that review, excerpt, or otherwise relate to the book in question. Second, all the thousands of articles by any of our columnists now automatically contain links to a selection of their published books, so that readers who find their writing impressive can easily obtain much more of it. And finally, the “Books” link in the top menu provides access to a selection of our published reviews and the books they cover, for now just a dozen or two, but intended to become much more numerous in the future:
One sad consequences of the sharp decline of our daily print media is the the tremendous loss of effective distribution channels for serious books, and perhaps our webzine, with its steadily growing traffic and highly involved readership may partly compensate for this disturbing state of affairs by becoming a useful distribution channel for the sorts of books regularly ignored by our mainstream media. At least that’s the theory; whether it becomes a reality depends upon you, our readers, so feel free to provide your comments or suggestions.
Meanwhile, several readers have said that since some of our discussion-threads grow exceptionally long, with 100, 200, or 300 comments, they would prefer some means of examining only those comments that attracted particular attention. I’ve always been reluctant to allow casual Liking or Disliking of comments lest feuding and gang-warfare become even more of a serious problem, but the system does allow established commenters who have saved their user information to apply one Agree or Disagree per hour to a comment; and there is now a “Agrees/Disagrees Only” button that temporarily hides all other comments, allowing a 300-comment thread to be reduced to the five or ten comments have have attracted such responses.
Also, I was notified that the Agrees and Disagrees were not being shown on the Commenting History pages, and that problem has now been fixed.
Finally, I should mention that our November traffic numbers once again broke records, easily topping 1.8M pageviews. Our small webzine is obviously not in the league of The Huffington Post or National Review, but we’ve certainly come a great distance in a very short time, with our readership up 60% in just the last twelve months.