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Beth Cox Report: November 2015

Dear Loyal Readers, Authors, and Publishers,

Never let it be said that I cannot admit to being wrong.

In the March 2013 Beth Cox Report, I openly stated that it was against the Midwest Book Review's policy to accept website contact forms as a means of getting in touch with authors or publishers. At that time, we required either a physical mailing address or an email address to accompany all review copy submissions.

I have officially reversed that decision. Going forward, the MBR will use website contact forms to send notifications of book reviews as needed, although we still much prefer to use either a standard email address or a physical mailing address.

What changed my mind? Well, to quote the memorable Al Yankovic:

"Spam in the place where I live / Spam in my office at work / Spam any place that you are"

Spam, scam, and phishing email remains an ongoing nuisance for economies at large and individuals at home. In the publishing world, the ones who can least afford to waste time and effort dealing with spam are the "little guys", including self-published authors, small press publishers, and independent publicists. Every time I see yet another round of spam in the MBR's email box, I sympathize.

The MBR will continue to use our own standard email address; we have no intention of switching to a website contact form. But I have come to recognize that a contact form can be a defense against time-wasting spam, and it's not my place to penalize any author, publisher, or publicist for using one.

I should also stress that the MBR does not display email addresses in its online magazines, or include any email addresses in the reviews it sends to subscribers or to Cengage Learning. This is to prevent these email addresses from being harvested by spambots. Email addresses are sometimes present in the physical tear sheets or emailed copies of book reviews that we privately send to authors, publishers, and publicists, but email addresses are not publically distributed. This policy has been in place for many years now, ever since I learned about how insidious spambot harvesters are, and it's a decision that I will never revert.

Scam and phishing emails (or physical mailings!) tend to surge in response to the sudden need of real people. When the public is shocked by a terrible natural or man-made disaster, or when the Christmas season (a time known for charitable giving) comes around, there is sadly a never-ending stable of con artists who divert attention and funds from worthy charitable institutions. As Christmas approaches, November's Link of the Month is actually multiple websites for the generous yet prudent giver:

Charity Watch:

Charity Navigator:


The Better Business Bureau's National Charity Report Index:

What these websites have in common is that they evaluate the spending of nonprofit charities and rate their efficiency. This allows prospective donors to give wisely and avoid outright scams while helping those who need it most. These are not the only charity-watchdog websites, but they are four of the most well-known.

Now for November's Book of the Month. This title taught me amazing things about one of history's most influential leaders:

Winston Churchill Reporting: Adventures of a Young War Correspondent
Simon Read
Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780306823817 $26.99

Winston Churchill Reporting: Adventures of a Young War Correspondent is the true-life story of a lesser-known period in the life of British statesman Winston Churchill (1874-1965). Today Churchill is best known as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-1945 (during the harrowing years of World War II), and again from 1951-1955. But before Churchill was a politician who made history, he was a journalist who reported history in the making. When Churchill was in his 20s, he established a reputation as not only a talented war reporter, but also as a strong-willed soldier. Extensively researched, rich in detail, and enhanced with notes, a bibliography, and an index, Winston Churchill Reporting is worthy of the highest recommendation for public and college library biography collections.

That's all for the November 2015 Beth Cox Report. Keep your eyes and ears open!

Bethany Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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