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Booklist logo.jpg
Categories Book reviews, Book industry, Library science
Frequency 22 issues per year
Publisher American Library Association
First issue January 1905
Country United States
Based in Chicago, Illinois[1]
Language English
ISSN 0006-7385
OCLC number 1536781

Booklist is a publication of the American Library Association that provides critical reviews of books and audiovisual materials for all ages. It is geared toward libraries and booksellers, and is available in print or online. It is published twice monthly September through June, and monthly in July and August. Booklist reviews over 7,500 titles per year and offers many supplemental products. The Booklist offices are located in the American Library Association headquarters in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.


Booklist began publication in January 1905 to "meet an evident need by issuing a current buying list of recent books with brief notes designed to assist librarians in selection," noted an introduction attributed to the American Library Association Publishing board. "Other features, such as annotated lists on current topics, will probably be added later, and in general, any matter useful to those in charge of smaller libraries will here find an appropriate place."[2][2]

In 1905, the annual subscription fee was only 50 cents. Initially, Booklist was subsidized by a $100,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation, known for its turn of the century endowments for public and university libraries. At the time of its inception, the journal mainly contained condensed summaries of only 25-50 words. The first editions were published in Boston, but in 1913, the Booklist offices were moved to the American Library Association headquarters, located in the McCormick Mansion in Chicago, Illinois. By the 1930s the reviews were more in-depth and the journal began to include some articles. In October 1939, just a few weeks after the start of World War II, Booklist published a very helpful article "Books for the 'Long and Calm View': On the Crisis, Its Background and Implications to the United States" that addressed "the demand for impartial books without the emotionalism of propaganda."[3] The editor wanted to make sure that in the midst of a world crisis, library patrons had their questions answered and all points of view given.

From the 1950s to the 1960s, Booklist reviews were extended to a limit of 150 words, generally three full sentences. Reviews were hand-written in pencil on yellow legal paper, edited, and given to the office secretary to be typed. At this time, artistic design choices for the magazine were minimal. The only visual change between issues was the solid color of the plain cover.

The 1970s saw a great deal of change in the Booklist offices. A Young Adult Books editor was hired as adolescent literature became more popular. The publication of such books as Judy Blume’s Forever, the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton marked a need for someone to evaluate books that were not meant strictly for either children or adults.

In 1973, Paul Brawley was hired as Editor and Publisher, and he was the first to print editions of the magazine with recreated book jackets on the cover. Many Booklist subscribers protested the flashy new covers, claiming they liked the plain covers and the space they afforded for listing potential book orders. Brawley’s time as editor also saw the advent of media reviewing. Beginning with 16mm film strips and spoken-word recordings, Booklist began to accept submissions and print reviews of audiovisual products.

The 1980s and 1990s saw Booklist’s first Editors’ Choice reviews as well as its first feature column. The column, entitled “Manley Arts” was penned by Will Manley. He began writing for Booklist after he was fired from a position at the Wilson Library Bulletin for publishing a piece about the sexual habits of librarians. The 1990s issues of Booklist were the first to be composed on in-office computers.

The June 2005 issue of Booklist marked the magazine’s 100th anniversary. To celebrate the centennial, the acting editors published a feature article entitled “The Booklist Century” wherein they chose a book from each year of the preceding hundred to highlight its immense societal impact. At the start of Booklist’s career, The House of Mirth (1905) by Edith Wharton was deemed the most influential title of the year. The hundredth pick, published in year 2004, was The 9/11 Commission Report.

Currently, the magazine can be found online and in print. The Booklist editorial team also creates a variety of supplemental products, such as Book Links, webinars and the Booklist Reader.[3] Booklist offices are located in the 50 E. Huron building at the headquarters of the American Library Association. The Editor and Publisher, Bill Ott, has been working at Booklist for over 30 years. He is the seventh editor to hold the position since Booklist was founded in 1905.

Current Masthead[edit]

  • Bill Ott - Editor & Publisher
  • Keir Graff - Executive Editor
  • Donna Seaman - Editor, Adult Books
  • Rebecca Vnuk - Editor, Collection Management and Library Outreach
  • Daniel Kraus - Editor, Books for Youth
  • Joyce Saricks - Editor, Audio[4]

Reviews and Reviewers[edit]

Booklist Reviews Booklist reviews are said to be "the haiku of book reviewing." Most reviews are no longer than 175 words. If a book is outstanding in its genre and the reviewer wishes to recommend a star, the reviewer may, subject to the editor’s approval, write a 200-to-225 word review.

Starred Reviews The Booklist star indicates an outstanding publication in a particular field. Titles are only competition with titles of the same genre. Reviewers recommend that titles be starred, but all selections must be approved by an editor.[5]

High-Demand Recognizing that adult library patrons often request materials before or soon after they are published, Booklist aims to review new books as early as possible. Titles deemed likely to be in high demand—due to the quality of the book, the status of the author, the popularity of the subject, or any combination of these and other factors—are reviewed well in advance of publication, with the reasons for the anticipated demand listed in a "High-Demand Backstory" note following the review.[6]

Adult Books with YA Appeal Booklist provides additional guidance to librarians by recommending some adult titles as suitable for young adults. In fiction, this includes titles with young protagonists that are written in an accessible style, exploring situations and issues that will interest teens. Nonfiction must be entertaining, informative, and accessible. Qualified reviewers may append one-sentence recommendations, explaining the book’s appeal to young adults.[7]

Recommendation-only system Booklist follows a “recommended-only” policy, meaning that everything reviewed is recommended for purchase by libraries. However, in critical terms, not every review has to be positive. While most of the reviewed titles are works of quality—well-written, well-researched, and artistically successful—books may also be recommended solely on the basis of anticipated patron demand. This is especially true with series fiction: often the very fact that a book belongs to a popular series is reason enough for recommendation. If a title is recommended for reasons besides literary merit, the basis of that recommendation is noted in the body of the review. This recommended-only policy, in place since Booklist’s founding in 1905, has been adapted over the years in response to changes in the philosophy of public-library service.[8]

Booklist Selection Policy Booklist editors and reviewers follow standard selection criteria consistent with the Library Bill of Rights and its various interpretations as adopted by the Council of the American Library Association. In selecting materials for review, Booklist editors reflect many of the same attitudes as professional librarians selecting materials for purchase.

Booklist Reviewers Booklist has a large team of book reviewers: contract reviewers, freelance reviewers, journalists, and subject specialists, as well as Booklist staff and editors.[9]

Other Products[edit]

Website Booklist Online is the website and archive of the Booklist print magazine. It offers free content to non-subscribers including a Review of the Day, and a selection of additional reviews and features written exclusively for Booklist Online. Subscribers gain access to digital editions of Booklist and the full Booklist Online database, which contains more than 170,000 reviews and features dating back to 1992, and approximately 8,000 new reviews and related features every year. Much of that content is dynamically linked—review to review, review to feature, and feature to feature. Booklist Online was developed in 2005, concurrent with the magazine’s centennial, and launched in early 2006.[10]

Blog Launched in September 2014, The Booklist Reader provides a single home for the previously established blogs Likely Stories, Book Group Buzz, Bookends, Audiobooker, and Shelf Renewal, all products of Booklist Publications. The Booklist Reader is a resource for working librarians but provides content for recreational readers as well. The Booklist Reader is free to all, and often links to content on Booklist Online.

Book Links A quarterly supplement to Booklist that is free to Booklist subscribers, Book Links magazine helps teachers, youth librarians, school library media specialists, reading specialists, curriculum coordinators, and others connect children with high-quality literature-based resources. Book Links articles provide information on using books in the classroom, including thematic bibliographies with related discussion questions and activities, author and illustrator interviews and essays, and articles by educators on practical ways to turn children on to reading. Each issue includes specific suggestions for tying Common Core State Standards to books featured in the publication. Published in September, November, January, and April, each Book Links issue focuses on a different core curriculum area, including social studies, multicultural literature, language arts, and science. Book Links articles from October 2009 onward are available to Booklist subscribers on Booklist Online.[11]

Webinars Booklist hosts 3-5 webinars per month with varying subject matter. Booklist webinars address such topics as curriculum design, how to increase reading rates, seasonal features, and publishing previews sponsored by various publishing houses and imprints. Anyone can sign up for a Booklist webinar, regardless of whether or not they subscribe to the publication.

Newsletters Booklist publishes a variety of monthly, bimonthly and quarterly newsletters, all of which are delivered in electronic form via e-mail.

  • REaD ALERT primarily shares links to a selection of reviews and articles from the latest issue of Booklist.
  • Booklist Online Exclusives offers links to the full text of reviews and features published exclusively on Booklist Online. These reviews supplement Booklist's print coverage and carry the same imprimatur as Booklist reviews.
  • Booklandia is a free, bimonthly newsletter that updates subscribers on trends in Young Adult literature through a mix of original feature articles and selected Booklist reviews of notable YA titles.
  • Quick Tips for Schools & Libraries delivers practical ideas and activities that help educators integrate children's and YA books into the curriculum. This monthly newsletter includes thematic bibliographies, author interviews, and suggestions for connecting kids and books.
  • Corner Shelf addresses trends, ideas, and issues in Readers’ Advisory and Collection Development, aimed at helping librarians find common ground between the two.
  • Top Shelf Reference serves librarians looking for supplemental insight into choosing and promoting reference titles, with recurring features such as "Real-Life Reference," "Talking Shop with . . ." and "Reference Site to Remember." Mails four times per year.
  • Booklist Online Video Review is a bimonthly digital newsletter featuring new reviews of videos for adults and youth.
  • Bookmakers is a periodic e-newsletter that focuses on the history of a single publishing house.[12]


The American Library Association sponsors and juries many annual literary awards, such as the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal, and the Alex Award. Booklist itself sponsors three main awards: the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, and the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production.

The Printz Award is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association. The Carnegie Medals are administered by an annually appointed selection committee, including a chair, three Booklist editors or contributors, and three former members of the RUSA CODES Notable Books Council. The Odyssey Award is jointly administered by the Association for Library Service to Children and the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Additionally, Booklist selects Editors’ Choice lists for adult books, young adult books, books for youth, adult audiobooks, and audiobooks for youth. The best title in each category is selected to a list known as Top of The List. Editors' Choice and Top of the List titles are announced in December and printed in the subsequent January 1 & 15 double issue of Booklist.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]