When I first started at Kirkus as an editorial assistant in September 2004, we still sent our pre-publication review notifications to publishers via fax machine. Fax! We also managed our content with a laughably out-of-date Filemaker system and dial-up–era website. Of course, during those years, we were owned by Nielsen Media, and little did we know that in 2009, they would decide to shutter the decades-old publication—and put me and my colleagues out of a job.
Thankfully, by early 2010, Kirkus had been purchased by a group including my current bosses, Herb Simon and Marc Winkelman, and we have been steadily growing ever since. Not only have we nearly doubled the number of books we review each year (nearly 8,000) and added a robust features section that includes author interviews, blogs, essays and other nonreview content, but we have significantly expanded our business to include a wide variety of new products and services: Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Editorial, Kirkus Pro Connect, Kirkus TV and most recently, the Kirkus Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the world (and one of my favorite new projects). We’re not just for librarians anymore, folks.
In addition to branching out beyond the pre-publication reviews box, we drastically overhauled both our website and our print publication, making it easier and more enjoyable than ever to learn about the next best-seller or literary classic—which has been our focus at Kirkus for more than 80 years.
In thinking about the last 10 years and how the publishing industry has changed—and survived, despite all the doom-and-gloom prognostication—I’m proud that Kirkus has remained consistent in its goal to provide honest assessments of books and continue to offer readers a simple tool for discovering their next favorite book or author. —E.L.
Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor at Kirkus Reviews.