The “Issue” Issue

At, we publish new review content every day.

For the increasingly panicky editor casting about at deadline time for a suitable topic for this month’s editorial, Choice presents a dilemma. Editors of other publications have it easy. They can always fall back on the tried-and-true “in this issue” approach, “Five Easy March Recipes!” This is a fine strategy for some, but for a service that publishes 400 or more brief reviews each month, not so much. Then there is the “current events” tack. But because our editorials serve as introductions to an issue of a journal, they must be written anywhere from four to six weeks prior to publication in order to allow time for composition and printing. Finding a topic of substance can sometimes be difficult because of that. After all, what’s current about something that happened a month ago?

So if editorials like this one are tied to the traditional notion of an issue, let’s chat for a moment about this increasingly problematic “issue” issue, a matter that has come to the fore since the publication of the new Choice Reviews. (Notice how I’ve cleverly worked my way back to a “topic of substance.”)

We sometimes hear from readers who are having difficulty reconciling what they see in Choice magazine with what we publish in Choice Reviews. “Where is the November issue?” they ask, after searching the database. Well, in fact, readers can filter Choice Reviews for the reviews that appear in a given print issue (use the “Issue” filters in Advanced Search), but the sense of dislocation embedded in that question is justified. There are no issues in Choice Reviews. Why? For the simple reason that we now publish reviews on a continuous basis—some twenty-five of them a day—without waiting to gang them into an issue and set them into type. As a result, we can publish reviews as much as three months earlier than was possible using print technologies. This seems to us a more than fair trade-off.

What’s so privileged about an issue, anyway? An issue of Choice magazine is nothing more than a collection of the reviews that happened to be ready for publication by a given date. We could just as easily have chosen some other period for the publication cycle, and in fact, for Choice Reviews we have done just that. Not once a month but every day.

But, you may point out, one of the benefits of an issue is that it provides a useful way of organizing material for periodic searches of the reviews. Fair enough, but if we can redefine our publication cycle, so can you. For instance, you could use the “Last 30 Days” filter on the first day of each month as your new “issue,” and by doing so you would be accessing reviews up to ninety days prior to their appearance in print. (Print subscribers, are you listening?)

So, yes, by redefining the publication cycle for Choice Reviews we’re trying to change user behavior, but we are doing so in a way that makes our service more valuable to you. Give it a try; we think you’ll be pleased with the difference.

Author photo

About the author:

Mark Cummings is the editor and publisher at Choice