It was 10 years ago this month that I launched The Birder’s Library. Even as I type this, I can’t believe it’s been that long! I knew very little about running a website…or design…or even about reviewing books. Honestly, I’m still learning all those things.
It’s been a great 10 years and I hope to continue as long as the site remains useful. To celebrate, I’ve lined up a couple of giveaways – keep an eye out for more details.
Finally, if you want a good laugh, this is what the website looked like when it launched. No WordPress, just all (painfully) hand-modified html. Ugh
Sorry for the lack of reviews lately – I just haven’t seemed to have much time for writing, or even reading, this summer. Work, family vacations, the usual excuses. I’m working on a review of Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year (spoiler: it’s a great read), and am in the middle of reading The Genius of Birds (a very informative survey of bird “smarts”). But in the meantime (tomorrow, to be precise), you’ll be treated to Frank Lambert’s review of Birds of Western Ecuador: A Photographic Guide.
If you’re looking for something good to read, there have been several excellent books published in the last few months. Besides the ones I’ve already reviewed or mentioned here, a couple excellent choices are Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific and One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives.
I’ve decided to make a change to the affiliate links used here on The Birder’s Library. First, a quick explanation in case anyone needs it: affiliate links are special links to online retailers. The referring site gets a small percentage of the transaction total from anything purchased using one of the links. This site has used Amazon affiliate links for as long as I can remember. But I’ll now be transitioning to Buteo Books and NHBS.
So why the switch? It’s definitely not about the money. I’ve never made that much from the Amazon affiliate program – just enough to pay for hosting this site and maybe a couple books. And with this switch, I’m anticipating earning less. No, this is strictly about the type of sites that I want to support. Buteo Books (based in the U.S.) and NHBS (based in the U.K.) specialize in bird and natural history books. Yes, for the most part you can find the same books for less on Amazon or other large retailers. But try asking someone at Amazon a question about a bird book! And if you’re looking for specialized, obscure, or older books you have a much better shot with one of these two stores. Plus, they both support birding and conservation organizations. Basically, I care about birds and bird books and want to support those who feel likewise.
So going forward, I’ll be linking to Buteo and NHBS as much as possible. And as I have time, I’ll go back and update previous posts. I would encourage you to support these two booksellers. And if you choose to do it through the affiliate links here on The Birder’s Library, that would be greatly appreciated.
I’ve updated the Comparison of Bird Listing Apps for the iPhone page to include two more apps – BirdsEye BirdLog and Lifebirds Journal. If you’re still looking for a list-keeping app for your iDevice, then check it out.
I’ve finally created a Facebook page for The Birder’s Library. I’m still trying to figure out the best usage of it, so if anyone has something they’d like to see there, please let me know. Feel free to add a discussion, or comment on the Wall. You should be able to do that if you have a Facebook account and become a fan of the page. But everyone should be able to view it.
And please check out my status update to help decide what gets reviewed next.
The Well-read Naturalist just posted about a new FTC ruling regarding endorsement disclosures. The intent seems to be to make sure that relationships “between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed”. We’ve all seen celebrities endorse products in commercials, on talk shows, etc, without being clear if this is their own opinion, or if they’re just getting paid to say it. Online, there are all kinds of websites talking about products. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are by a legitimate third party, or just some kind of shill-site created by the manufacturer.
It’s hard to argue against attempting to clear these muddy waters. But these guidelines seem ambiguous to me, such that I wasn’t sure at first if they would apply to a site like mine. After looking through them more, I think they might. Regardless, as annoying as it is, in a situation like this I’d rather be safe than sorry.
I do not get paid to write reviews, or receive any sort of payment from publishers. However, I do receive complementary review copies from publishers and authors. Many of the books I review now are such review copies. But whether a book I review is sent to me by the publisher or bought with my own money, it does not affect how I review it. I don’t do this to get free books; I just want to provide a service for fellow bird bibliophiles. Honestly, when I started this site almost three years ago, it never even occurred to me that I would eventually be getting free review copies.
To comply with the FTC, I will now add a statement to each review where the product was provided by the publisher or author. And I will be going back and doing the same to previous reviews.
It started over a month ago. A friend at work prototypes and designs some internal websites, so I thought I’d get his opinion on this site’s design. Well, let’s just say the reaction wasn’t favorable. Thus began a long discussion on the design and many hours spent trying to make it work.
And finally, the results are in front of you (unless you’re reading this on a RSS reader, in which case click on through and check it out).
I’d love to know what you think about the new design. Is there anything that could look or work better? Is there anything missing that you’d like to see? And I’d definitely like to know if you encounter any problems. I’ve tested it out using several browsers, but there could still be bugs.
Well, now that this is done it’s time to get to the ever-growing pile of books that need reviewing…
Welcome to the new, and hopefully vastly improved, Birder’s Library. I have built this new version using the wonderful WordPress blogging software. While I suppose that technically makes this site a blog now, the purpose and basic functionality of the site has not changed. But it will make it much more convenient and easy for me to post reviews and updates.
And it also allowed me to add some really cool features that I wanted to include from the beginning:
- Reader’s Rating – site users can now give the item their own rating, in the standard 5 star format.
- Comments – readers can leave a response to reviews and any other post. Feel free to comment on the review itself, on the item being reviewed, or anything else related to the post.
- Subscribe to posts and/or comments – posts and comments are available on a RSS feed. You can use special sites or software to view them, as explained here. If you subscribe you will never miss a post and won’t have to keep checking the website for new content.
So take a look around and test out some of the new features. Then please let me know how you like the changes. And most definitely make me aware of any issues or problems you have viewing or using the site. You can do so by submitting a response to this post, or by emailing me at the address on the contact page.