I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Resource Alert: New Book on British Binge Worthy Television With Bonus Becky Rant on Helping Readers Consumer Stories Regardless of Format

When I am out providing my RA training programs, I always talk about how our work with readers includes all of the ways they consume stories-- meaning that while books are the primary method [and audio, ebooks, and graphic novels are included there], tv, movies, and podcasts are also something we need to be aware of, always.

Our patrons consume stories in a variety of ways. They "read" in many formats. One of the biggest areas is through binging television shows. Just this weekend I was talking with a friend about how much she loves to read a novel and binge a tv series. We discussed how they are both a similar activity and honestly, take the same amount of time. And, from what I have seen, my friend is not alone.

People are binging more shows and this is great for us because, again, it is simply another way they take in a longer story. We need to understand that in the patrons' eyes, the wide difference we see between reading a book and watching a multi-episode tv series is rapidly shrinking. To our patrons, both are consuming a story. And, not only do they do both, we have both for them-- as DVDs to check out, streaming services to access, and even Rokus to checkout to access the pay services.

There is NO reason, other than stubbornness and out of date point of views that stop us from helping to match our patrons with their next good story regardless of format. Books are not the only or the "correct" way to do this...period.

Well, there is one reason, we are lacking solid resources to help us help them find their next great binge.

Into this void walks, Sarah Cords, a RA expert who recently released Bingeworthy British Television: The Best Brit TV You Can't Stop Watching which is an excellent resource for you to help patrons identify the best British shows for them.

This book is getting amazing reviews. Click here or here to read them.

Personally, I appreciate how well it is organized [also noted by the reviewers above]. It is broken up by types of shows making it very easy to use while working with patrons. Also, the American-British co-authors both interject their personal voices which makes the book feel more personal, like they are right there, looking over your shoulder, helping you to help others. I especially love the information provided by Jackie Bailey explaining the British specificities, some that are lost on even the most Anglophile of Americans.

But don't take it from me or the two stellar reviews only [again here and here], let's hear from Sarah Cords herself, including why she wrote the book and information on how easy it is for your library to order it through traditional methods.  Take it away Sarah:


I grew up as a farm girl, and although my parents encouraged reading, they did not encourage TV watching. And they really only encouraged reading when we were done with our chores—which meant, basically, that we didn’t get to read all summer and only got to read in winter when we were done with our homework, shoveling snow, and other chores. Recreational time was at an extreme premium. 
As a result I take my recreational time and activities very, very seriously. 

When I was a librarian, I reveled in the fact that reading was something to encourage in others and something to do as a professional activity for myself. I tried to learn from Becky and many others in the wonderful RA world about how best to work with readers and to use my knowledge of authors and books and genres to help them maximize and enjoy their reading time and experiences. I loved classifying nonfiction books and authors so much that I eventually wrote several guide books on the subject, including The Real Story (about nonfiction reading interests and genres) and The Inside Scoop (about investigative and journalistic books).  

Increasingly it becomes clear to me that stories not only help us to live, they make our lives more fun to live. I’ve decided to just give in and admit to an addiction/love affair that I’ve had all my life: with television, and more specifically, with British television. 

Today’s worries about screens and screen time focus almost primarily on kids and the time they spend on social media, but my fellow Gen-Xers and others may remember a time when the discussion was about how television was rotting our brains and turning our bodies into couch potatoes (the more things change, the more they stay the same). My farm household was also conservative, so that argument held sway there, although we of course watched the news and the weather and Bugs Bunny cartoons on Saturday morning and sometimes even Dallas while my mother was folding laundry. But none of that was enough for me, which is why by the time I was eleven and twelve, I was hiding out in my oldest brother’s room...where there was a TV on which I could secretly watch Remington Steele, starring the delectable and very Irish Pierce Brosnan. I have loved television deeply ever since. 

Which is why, after thirty years of being a TV addict and twenty years of being a British TV addict, I decided to combine my two loves (books and TV) into physical form, and published Bingeworthy British Television: The Best Brit TV You Can’t Stop Watching (with my British friend Jackie Bailey as co-author). 

First, the details: the book is 280 pages long, it is split into genres of television (including Comedies, Dramas, Crime Dramas, Literary Adaptations, etc.), it is fully indexed by title, actor, creator, and writer names, and it includes a bunch of fun sidebars of “insider information” written by Jackie. (For example: Why are there so few guns in most British crime dramas?) It includes information on more than one hundred of the best-known, best-loved, and also the quirkiest British programs available, including information about how long it takes to bingewatch each series, who created it, who stars in it, and what some other similar programs are that you might want to watch next. Sure, it’s all information you can find online, but it’s meant to be more relaxing than a targeted search: I included trivia about each program and a little bit about what truly makes each program “bingeworthy.”  

I was a librarian and I wanted specifically to make this book a valuable tool for librarians and collection developers. I belong to several Facebook groups to which thousands of other British TV fans belong, and, although you may think the format is dead, I still read a lot of comments about how people still watch a lot of British programs on DVD (and also get them from their libraries). These are people after my heart, because I have watched thousands of hours of British television, and I wrote this book, and I did it all without ever subscribing to one streaming service. I don’t have Amazon Prime, or Netflix, or Acorn TV, or Britbox (all of which are streaming services, the latter two devoted almost exclusively to British TV). I watch broadcast TV with a converter box, because my family’s income gives us very little wiggle room. I am so grateful to be part of a library system with a fantastic physical collection of British programming. Between broadcast PBS and the South Central Library System (WI), there is very little British TV that I can’t see, and I am grateful for that for cultural reasons but also for very economic reasons. 

There is a ton of content available, and a ton of resources talking about that content, and I know a lot of viewers are happy to watch whatever their TV service of choice offers next. But there will always be people who appreciate the personal touch where recommendations are concerned, and that’s very much what Jackie and I tried to do in this book. I hope it is useful to any librarians curating their Brit TV DVD collections, as well as to any individual who wants to read it as a companion to their viewing, and to feel like they are connected to other television superfans. 

Bingeworthy British Television by Sarah Cords and Jackie Bailey, published March 2019, list price of $19.99, ISBN 978-0-9600487-0-0, is available with the standard 55% discount through IngramSpark. It is also available directly from Amazon, and I offer the standard deal that if you buy and review a copy there, just send me an email at sarah.cords@gmail.com and I’ll send you a second copy absolutely free. I should also add that I maintain the Great British TV Site at greatbritishtv.com (@GreatBritishTV at Facebook), where I post weekly rundowns of British TV headlines and news, as well as conversations with Jackie about all the latest British TV. 

Thanks so much for reading and thanks to Becky for allowing me to post here! It’s so great to speak with library professionals again. Now get out there and do that vital RA (and other!) work that you all do. 

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