First, if you are reading this, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have no idea how many people actually read this website as I chose to remove the statistics of the website because I found myself making an idol of those numbers. I also know that others in the “book review industry” have intentionally sabotaged me – they even told me so because they “thought my platform was amazing and wanted to take it to the next level.” I keep plugging away at this minimalistic website because I love to read and enjoy being able to share with others what I am reading.
Second, I have not been able to write a review since the end of March due to the recent season of life. There have been personal family matters that have needed to be dealt with as well as ministry situations in the congregation I pastor and a research paper I had to write for my seminary class. None of this was earth-shattering or necessarily negative. When my schedule gets hectic like that, as it is prone to do, I do not have second thoughts about not writing for Christian Book Notes. That being said, this is most definitely a labor of love and I want to continue writing.
Third, I have been reviewing books for nearly ten years. I made a conscious decision back in 2009 to not be the guy who makes a name for himself criticizing authors and theologians except in those rare cases where there is blatant misinformation or plain heresy. For the most part, I have been extremely positive in my reviews. I have tried to be the platform for the independent publisher and self-published authors which has allowed me to single-handedly review over 1,000 books through this modest website. Though I am not in it for money, and I really don’t make any money except some Amazon gift card money used to purchase books for my children, both of these decisions have proven somewhat costly.
As a matter of fact, I started reviewing books on a whim and then it became a way in which I could acquire resources for my personal library. As a pastor of a rural congregation the past three plus years, this has proven extremely helpful for me personally. But, the times they are a changing.
While I am aware that many book reviewers are going to podcasts or adding extra material to their websites in addition to their book reviews, I have continued to write introductory book reviews and articles dealing with books. I did try to post some pastoral thoughts, but have relegated those to a tab above and have only written a couple. Needless to say, this website is for book reviews and will remain a source for book reviews. That does, however, lead me to share with you some changes I feel I need to make.
- More selective. I can no longer simply take any book to review. While I will strive to remain a platform for independent authors and publishers, I need to be more selective in what I offer to review. This is due in large part to my schedule with a family of seven, the demands of pastoring a rural congregation, and a continuing pursuit of a seminary degree. My hope is this will allow the content to be of greater quality than the simple introductory reviews I have published in the past.
- Less published. In order to improve upon the quality, and in addition to being more selective, I will need to scale my reviews back to one or two reviews a week as opposed to the five a week I originally published and the three a week I had been publishing. The format I have used for seven or eight years will remain the same, but I intend to have more content in the “review” section than what I have had the time to publish recently.
- More authors. At this point, I have been the sole author of Christian Book Notes. I have toyed with the idea in the past of bringing on other writers, but I didn’t want to become an editor in that sense. I believe now is the time for me to bring on another author or two. I will hand-select these next authors and will begin to intersperse their reviews into the steady stream of reviews published here at Christian Book Notes. This will obviously change the voice of the website, but I believe that will be for the better.
- Continued Trusted Reviews. My prayer is that this next phase of Christian Book Notes will continue to serve the Christian reader with trusted reviews. Though they might not be as short as they once were, it is my hope they will be more informational.
I began this note thanking those of you who read this website. I cannot tell you how much of an honor it is to serve you in this manner. It is a stewardship I do not take lightly. I pray these changes will be such that I am able to continue to serve you for the next 1,000 book reviews and on.
Your servant in Christ,