About the Seattle Review of Books

Seattle is the greatest book city in the United States

We have marvelous bookstores, excellent libraries, a vibrant community of writers, the most eager readers, world-famous institutions devoted to the art and craft of writing and reading, and a tremendous readings scene that hosts thousands of literary events a year. But for a multitude of reasons, Seattle’s media barely bothers to cover books at all.

We felt it was time for a publishing venture that intends to reflect, record, and celebrate our underserved literary community. From writers to readers, from booksellers to librarians, from new releases to antiquarian discoveries, we want to examine exactly what it means to love books and writing in Seattle in the 21st century. We believe the book review is an underrated art form, and we want to publish as much beautiful writing about books as humanly possible.

Who’s behind the site?

The Seattle Review of Books was founded by Martin McClellan and Paul Constant.

Paul has written for The Progressive, Newsweek, Re/Code, the Utne Reader, and many North American alternative weeklies. He’s worked in the book business for two decades, starting as a bookseller (originally at Borders Books and Music, then at Boston’s grand old Brattle Bookshop and Seattle’s own Elliott Bay Book Company) and then becoming a literary critic. He serves as the Seattle correspondent for national book news site Literary Hub. Formerly the books editor for the Seattle Stranger, Paul is now a fellow at Civic Ventures, a public policy incubator based out of Seattle.

Martin is a novelist (his first, California Four O’Clock, was published in 2015 by a successful Kickstarter campaign), and life-long reader. He designs websites, apps, and other things for a living in the healthcare industry.

Using restaurant terminology: Paul is responsible for the front-of-the-house, and Martin is running the kitchen (and occasionally delivering food).

What's the difference between Reviews and Notes?

Substantial, thoughtful reviews are the heart of The Seattle Review of Books. Few publications run reviews anymore, and we think that’s a shame. Reviews are an integral part of the cultural conversation, and book reviews are a privileged form because they’re the only type of criticism that takes the form of the art they’re critiquing; nobody dances a review of a dance performance, for instance, or constructs a building in response to a piece of architecture. Great book reviews are beautiful pieces of writing in response to beautiful pieces of writing. That’s a powerful trust. We believe that books are not monologues. Every book is the launching-point to a never-ending dialogue. Reviews are how those dialogues break free from between the covers and out into the world.

Our Notes — short posts, articles, and columns — are our blog. Through them we run local and national book news, interviews with local authors, columns, an ongoing Bookstore of the Month series, and profile pieces. Our notes will be more frequently updated than Reviews — every weekday.

How can you claim to celebrate the diversity of Seattle’s literary scene? Aren’t you a couple of white dudes?

Yes, but we are actively dedicated to diversity in the books that we cover, and in the reviewers who cover them. Diversity is a cornerstone belief of The Seattle Review of Books. We hope to encourage a new generation of book reviewers with a wide variety of perspectives to share their reading lives with the world. We also intend to hire an ombudsman to publish yearly “diversity reports” examining the race, gender, sexuality, and cultural perspectives of authors we feature, so that we don’t perpetuate the publishing industry’s ongoing institutional preference for books by straight white dudes. We encourage ongoing transparency and conversation on this topic.

Would you be interested in reviewing my book?

Absolutely! Thanks for your interest. Public relations representatives are encouraged to email us at queries @ this domain, or use the form on this page. Please mail review copies to:

The Seattle Review of Books
c/o Mercer Street Books
7 Mercer St
Seattle, WA 98109

Please bear in mind, though, that receipt of your book is not a guarantee that we will review it; there are simply too many books in the world for us to review them all. If you’re looking for a guaranteed way to get your book in front of our readers, we humbly suggest that you look into sponsoring the site for a week, which would earn you prominent placement on every page of the site. Sponsorships are inexpensive, and dedicated to a beautiful reading experience.

I want to review books for you! How do I go about doing that?

Contact us at submissions @ this domain, or using the form on this page, with a detailed pitch. We hope to publish one freelance review a week. Please don’t send unsolicited drafts of already-written reviews. Instead, explain what you’d like to cover in a review, how you’d like to cover it, and include links to examples of your writing so we can get a feel for your voice. (This doesn’t have to be professionally published writing; anyone can publish on medium.com, for instance. We look forward to working with new writers from all backgrounds.) Paying writers is important to us, but the payments will be modest while we get this project launched and running smoothly. We do hope to hear from you if you’d like to write for us.

What does a Sponsorship entail?

(Note: see current booking availability on our Sponsor page)

Rather than running a bunch of distracting and generic ads, we’re trying a different model: publishers or authors can sponsor the site for the week, and in return we’ll publish an excerpt from (and link to purchase) their book with prominent placement on every page of The Seattle Review of Books. We’ll also highlight the sponsor in our Notes section. Sponsorships can be tied to readings or other events. They’re great exposure both for the indie author, and for book publicists looking for new ways to reach avid readers.

We can guarantee that your writing will land in front of dedicated book-lovers: people who value beautiful writing and distinctive voices. Rates are very affordable. There's more information on our How To Sponsor page.

Where is your calendar?

We’re working on it! The calendar should be live sometime this fall, and we’ll make a big announcement when it’s ready. For now, we’ll be running a column about the best-looking readings of the week every Monday.

What's up with that gorgeous typography?

Our typefaces — Seravek for the body copy, and Anchor for the headlines — were generously provided by the Process Type Foundry for use on our site.

We picked Anchor because its elegant tight tracking and rounded corners gave a stalwart but non-stuffy feel to the page. It condensed nicely for long book (and post titles), but is very legible, and works with aplomb at any size you want it.

Seravek is just a lovely face to read long texts. It sets like a dream, scales beautifully, and infuses the text with a nice energy. To our eyes, it feels both modern and classic.

Big thanks to Process Type for their help with our project.

I want more nerdy details. What can you tell me?

The Seattle Review of Books is hosted by Webhook, and is based on their CMS. We're using Bootstrap, mostly for the grid system, and Kelly Martin's smartquotes.js to make sure our punctuation behaves.

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