Kirkus Reviews

"Kirkus" redirects here. For the climber, see Colin Kirkus.
Kirkus Reviews
Editor Virginia Kirkus (1933–July 1962)
Categories Book reviews
Frequency Semimonthly
Publisher Virginia Kirkus Bookshop Service, Virginia Kirkus Service, Inc. (from 1962), and others
Kirkus Media, LLC (from 2010)
First issue January 1933
Country United States
Based in New York City
Language English
ISSN 1948-7428

Kirkus Reviews (or Kirkus Media) is an American book review magazine founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus (1893–1980).[1] The magazine is headquartered in New York City.[2]


Kirkus Reviews, published on the first and 15th of each month, previews books prior to their publication. Kirkus reviews over 7,000 titles per year.[1][3]

In 2014, Kirkus Reviews started the Kirkus Prize. It is one of the richest literary awards in the world, bestowing $50,000 prizes annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature.[4]

Kirkus operates a number of additional services, including Kirkus Editorial, Kirkus Indie, and Kirkus Marketing.[5]

Influence and reception

As Rich Motoko noted in The New York Times on December 11, 2009, Kirkus is "typically not seen by the general public - except in blurbs on books or excerpted on" - Kirkus reviews were often used by librarians and booksellers when deciding how to stock their shelves." However, the publications' influence among in its target audience - which also includes publishers, agents, and authors - is mixed. Target market members who read or value Kirkus reviews have reported also reading Kirkus' "rivals Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal," as well as "talking with publishers’ sales representatives and reading advance galleys, when deciding what to buy." And, Motoko reported: "Authors seemed to have a mixed relationship with Kirkus. Not surprisingly, it had to do with what the reviewers said about their books."[6]

Another factor influencing authors' views is their cost-benefit analysis of the price they pay Kirkus to review their books (which was, as Giacomo Giammetteo noted in his June 13, 2014 report: "Kirkus promises you a review in 7–9 weeks for $425. You can purchase an expedited review for $575, and they will deliver it in 4–6 weeks") versus:[7]

Credibility—a Kirkus review is respected throughout the industry and by media and libraries

Marketing tool—a good Kirkus review is a valuable marketing tool, great for a blurb on a press release, or to be placed on your site, or as an editorial review on retailer sites

Personal gratification—every author I know feels great when their Kirkus review has good things to say.


Virginia Kirkus was hired by Harper & Brothers to establish a children's book department in 1926. The department was eliminated as an economy measure in 1932 (for about a year), so Kirkus left and soon established her own book review service.[8] Initially, she arranged to get galley proofs of "20 or so" books in advance of their publication; almost 80 years later, the service was receiving hundreds of books weekly and reviewing about 100.[3]

Initially titled Bulletin from Kirkus' Bookshop Service from 1933 to 1954, the title was changed to Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus' Service with the January 1, 1955 issue, and successively shortened to Virginia Kirkus' Service with the December 15, 1964 issue; it further shortened to Kirkus Service in 1967, before attaining its definitive title, Kirkus Reviews, with the January 1, 1969, issue. It was sold to The New York Review of Books in 1970 and later sold by the Review to Barbara Bader and Josh Rubins. In 1985, magazine consultant James B. Kobak acquired Kirkus Reviews.[9] David LeBreton bought Kirkus from Kobak in 1993.[10] BPI Communications, owned by Dutch publisher VNU, bought Kirkus from LeBreton in 1999.[11] At the end of 2009, the company announced the end of operations for Kirkus.[1] The journal was purchased from VNU (by then renamed The Nielsen Company, or Nielson N.V.) on February 10, 2010 by businessman Herbert Simon. Terms were not disclosed. It was thereafter renamed Kirkus Media, and book industry veteran Marc Winkelman was made Publisher.[12]


  1. 1 2 3 Rich, Motoko (December 11, 2009). "End of Kirkus Reviews Brings Anguish and Relief". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on November 21, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  2. "Contact Us". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Kirkus Reviews History". Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  4. Colin Dwyer (2014-09-30). "First-Ever Kirkus Prize Picks 18 Finalists : The Two-Way". NPR. Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  5. "Kirkus Book Reviews". Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  6. Rich, Motoko (December 2009). "End of Kirkus Reviews Brings Anguish and Relief". The New York Times.
  7. Giammatteo, Giacomo (June 13, 2014). "Watchdog: Is A Kirkus Review Worth The Price?".
  8. Marcus, Leonard S. (2008). Minders of Make-Believe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 104, 111. ISBN 978-0-395-67407-9.
  9. Dougherty, Philip H. (April 4, 1985). "Consultant Acquires Kirkus Reviews". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  10. "Kirkus Reviews being acquired". Publishers Weekly. August 23, 1993. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  11. "Kirkus Reviews Acquired By Publisher of Billboard". August 2, 1999. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  12. Rich, Motoko (February 10, 2010). "Kirkus Gets a New Owner – From the N.B.A.". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2012.

Further reading

External links

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