Science Books & Film Gets Digital Makeover

After 44 years in print, AAAS’s Science Books & Film has gone online with a host of new features, ensuring the venerable journal’s position as one of the world’s leading authorities on science media resources.

Podcast interviews with authors, a weekly editor’s blog, and a searchable database of thousands of reviews are among the valuable new tools for librarians, parents, and readers. Although best known for its reviews of children’s books, SB&F also covers science television and film, software, and Web sites.

“SB&F has been a one-of-a-kind journal for decades,” said Heather Malcomson, the journal’s editor for the past 8 years. “But I think that the online presence, using a number of platforms, will really give us an opportunity to reach more people, and more young people. We know the enthusiasm for science reading is out there, and we want to connect those readers with the best the science world has to offer.”

Each monthly online issue, available at www.sbfonline.com, contains about 75 reviews written by scientists, educators, and media specialists. But the new blog for subscribers expands these offerings with a weekly look at new books and software, science on television, and ongoing SB&F projects. Malcomson hopes that the blog will also “become an interactive place for me to communicate with our readers.”

Librarians, who rely on the reviews to guide critical purchasing decisions for their science sections, make up the bulk of more than 1500 journal subscribers, according to Malcomson. Patrons of many public libraries, as well as individual subscribers, have full access to all of SB&F’s features, including lists of the past year’s Best Books for Children, Junior High, and High School Students, and Best Video and Software.

Subscribers can also plan their monthly viewing schedule with the help of SB&F’s “Science on TV” column, which offers short descriptions of select programs with a scientific bent.

Even without a subscription, visitors to SB&F online can listen to the journal’s podcast series, “AAAS Book Talks.” The series, supported by the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation, interviews award-winning science authors to learn more about their inspiration and future projects.

“The authors have really interesting stories to share about where the idea for the book came from or stories behind the book, like research expeditions,” said Malcomson, who does many of the interviews along with SB&F Editor-in-Chief Maria Sosa. “All of the authors have a desire to communicate science in a way that is exciting and encourages listeners to take an interest in science.”

Along with auto manufacturer Subaru, SB&F sponsors an annual award honoring individual science books. The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books celebrate outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults.