Newcomers to the Bas Bleu family always ask us about the initials that accompany our book reviews. Our longtime readers know that’s how we identify each review’s writer (you can find a “key” on page 2 of our catalog), but you may wonder why we feel the need to do so.
In 1996, after penning every scrap of copy for the company’s first four issues, Bas Bleu founder Eleanor Edmondson (EE) was thrilled to discover an English major among the temps in her call center. She happily delegated some of the catalog copy assignments to Christie Hall (CH), including The Private Life of Plants by David Attenborough. Christie’s review began, “I know my romantic life is somewhat boring, but I find being upstaged by the tricky love games of a mirror orchid awfully humbling.”
Clever, right? There was just one problem: At the time, Eleanor’s husband, Charlie, was moonlighting as Bas Bleu’s copyeditor. When he read Christie’s unsigned review…well, let’s just say he became concerned that his wife was casting aspersions on their marriage! He was wrong, of course, and everyone had a hearty laugh about it. They also agreed, however, that since Bas Bleu’s reviews sometimes get a little personal, it might be wise to attribute them to specific writers.
Over the years, as Bas Bleu has grown and added new writers to our team, we’ve stuck with this practice. In brick-and-mortar bookstores, it’s known as “handselling,” when staff members promote books based on their personal recommendations rather than publisher-sponsored marketing. Signing each review is our way of sharing the personal connection we make with these books, to tell you they resonated with us in the hopes that the titles we love might become the ones you love.