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An Analysis of Book Reviews in Alternative Press Journals and Public Library Holdings of Alternative Press Books

Counterpoise; Gainesville Vol. 6, Iss. 4,  (Oct 2002): 12.
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Sean Stewart is a librarian at Wichita Falls Public Library in Wichita Falls, Texas. He publishes a zine called Thoughtworm, writes zine reviews for the NewPages Zine Rack (, and, with his wife Malinda, writes zine reviews for Zine World: A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press.


This study examines the potential relationship between book reviews in alternative press journals and the holdings of these books in public libraries within the United States. A sample of 26 alternative press book titles was chosen from the total number of books reviewed in Volume 3 (1999) of Counterpoise, an alternative press review journal. The titles were checked against Alternative Press Index and Book Review Index and the indexed reviews were recorded for each title. The holdings of these books were then checked for a sample of 162 public libraries, stratified by size of population served. The data show that a small group of mainstream journals accounted for a significant percentage of reviews, while a much larger group of alternative press journals accounted for a lesser percentage of reviews. Other data show that there was a significant relationship between the total reviews a book received and how many libraries owned the book, and that there was a significant relationship between holdings and size of population served.



Over the past 20 years, the United States book publishing industry has rapidly been coming under the control of what is now only a handful of gigantic media conglomerates. Bagdikian (2000, p. xxxvii) reported that only five corporations own the majority of America's trade publishers; one of them, Bertelsmann, controls "10 percent of all English-language book sales in the world." Schiffrin (2000, p. 3, 7) pointed out that although "some 50,000 entities are still recognized by the Library of Congress as publishers," only about twenty...