Sunday, March 20, 2022

Do you want to be the SIGACT NEWS book review editor?

I ran the SIGACT Book Review Column from 1997-2015 (18 years). You can find all of my columns, plus reviews I did for Fred, here.

When I handed it off to Fred Green I gave him this sage advice:

                   Nobody should do this kind of job for more than about 5 years.

He ran the SIGACT Book Review Column since the end of 2015. You can find some of his columns here.

Fred is taking my advice and looking for a successor.

SO, this blog is a call to ask


If so then email


DO NOT BE SHY! I suspect he won't get many applicants, so if you want the job its probably yours.


1) You get to skim lots of books and read some of  them.

2) You get some free books.

3) You get plugged into the book community (this helped me when I wrote my two books).

4) You'll have two Veteran Book Review Editors happy to review for you.

5) You get to decide the direction the column goes in.

Both Fred and I did mostly CS theory books. However:

a) I did more combinatorics, educational, history, and Computers & Society books than usual.

b) Fred did more Number Theory and Physics than usual.

(Since I did the job 18 years and Fred for 6, its not clear what usual means.) 


1) You have to get out a book review column 4 times a year.

2) You have to find reviewers for books and then email them when the reviews are due.

(I think Fred is still waiting for me to review a Biography of Napier. Oh well. On the other hand, I was the one who liked having history books, which may explain why Fred never hassled me about it.) 


Prob should be done by someone who already has Tenure. While seeing and skimming thosebooks is GOOD for your research career, and good in the long-termsomeone pre-tenure really needs to get papers out in the short term. Also, when you get a book think about who might be good to review it--- don't take on to many yourself. 


In a recent column I had a review of a 5-book set from the LESS WRONG blog. I amcurrently working on a review of a 4-book set set from the LESS WRONG blog. This willeither be a parting gift for Fred or a Welcome gift to his successor.


  1. Lance's tweet about this post points out that books are not going to review themselves.

    in the not-to-distant-future when we have stronger AI, might we have smart-books that review themselves? Could they be objective? Would they need a disclaimer?

  2. The listing of columns is now up-to-date, as per the last published SIGACT News. So you can replace "some" with "all" for this link :-) . (Other info I point to from my website (e.g., "books that need reviewing") may also need updating.)

    Thanks again for the post Bill!