Site status: Two things for Thursday

I’ve got a couple of blog-related status reports for you today, just in case you missed some things that happened earlier this week.

If you’re like me, you probably do most of your blog reading via an RSS reader of some sort and don’t visit the blogs themselves very often. Also, your feed reader probably brings you many blogs where you don’t comment regularly, so you don’t really need to go to the sites all that much. You may not even remember what some of the blogs you read even look like, since you may not have been to them more than a few times since you originally subscribed.

All of this is leading up to my telling you that I unveiled a new layout of The 3 R’s on Monday, and if you haven’t seen it yet, please come by and take a look!

I’ve been thinking about some changes for awhile, and with Book Blogger Appreciation Week just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to spiff things up – new visitors and all, you know. I’ve been wanting to try out a three-column format; they seem to make smarter use of the space. The template I’m using is new to me, but not created for me; it’s a customization of the very flexible – and freeProfessional template from The header and logo, however, were custom-created by my in-house illustrator/graphic designer – a/k/a my husband, a/k/a Tall Paul (a/k/a RamsesTMagnum to his Twitter followers).

I’ve removed a few widgets because they weren’t behaving properly with the new layout. The Book Blogs Search Engine widget was taking up too much space no matter where I placed it, and since I couldn’t figure out why, it’s gone – but there’s a link to it above the header. The Google Followers widget is installed, but may or may not show up; that may be a Google/Blogger issue more than one related to the template, though. If you don’t seen the widget, you can still follow the blog via the “follow blog” link in the Navbar at the very top of the screen (or subscribe using one of the links on the upper left.) I also moved all of the blogrolls out of the sidebars and down to the bottom of the page.

Thanks to Janelle and Natasha for mentioning on Monday that the sidebar fonts were too tiny; I think I’ve addressed that, and I’m now very glad I attended that CSS Geek Lab session at BlogHer’09, since I actually had to play with the style sheet to change them! I don’t have access to the code for some of the widgets, so it didn’t help with all of those, but I hope most of the text is easier on your eyes now – unless you’re Chris, who told me that everything was too BIG. I did all of the layout using Firefox on a 13″ MacBook , so a different browser and/or operating system may affect your view. Also, my husband the graphic designer informs me that a lot of this depends on how your own screen resolution is set, so you can always try playing with the zoom settings on your browser – I do that all the time myself, but I want to make you comfortable when you visit, too.

I’m still doing little tweaks as needed, so if you notice any problems, please let me know! (And if you just plain like the new look, please feel free to let me know that as well!)

(2) In other self-referential news, I have reluctantly come to the decision not to accept any more book-review offers for the rest of this year, and I updated my review policy accordingly. I still intend to put in requests for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer batches if anything looks good, and I may respond to some of those Shelf Awareness ads here and there, but otherwise, I really feel like I need to cut things off for awhile. The stacks are getting ridiculous, and sometimes I just miss reading what I want to read when I want to read it. If something amazing comes along, I reserve the right to bend my own rules, but since a lot of the pitches I’ve been getting lately haven’t really been right for me anyway, I’m not sure I’ll miss much if I take a few months off and say “no.”

Have any of you felt the need to declare a moratorium on review books? How did it work out?

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  1. I couldn't view your blog from work with the old format. I'll have to test out the new one today to see if it will come up.

    I really do like the new format. It's clean and straightforward. Not that your old format wasn't. πŸ™‚ I liked that too.

    I've been debating doing the same thing regarding review books. It's a good idea, anyway.

  2. I stopped accepting review copies back in January, and it felt like such a load off my mind. πŸ™‚ Now, I've started accepting a few that sound really good, but for the most part if I get a great-sounding e-mail, I get the book from the library instead. Less pressure and guilt that way!

  3. Wendy (Literary Feline) – I suspect I'll make some exceptions to the "no review books" policy if requests come from people I already have relationships with, but it will be a case-by-case thing.

    I'm glad you like the new format. I'm pretty pleased with it myself :-). It seems to load faster on both my work and home computers, too (both using Firefox, one's a PC, one's a Mac), but changing some of the widgets could be helping with that as well. I'm not over-analyzing it.

    Eva – Unfortunately, I'm not big on using the library, but I can see where that could work out pretty well.

    I don't get nearly as many review offers as some other book bloggers do, but I still feel like I need a breather anyway. We'll see how it goes.

  4. I wondered who did your header. It's looks great. Are you liking the 3 column format? I find that it works better for me personally.

  5. I've pretty much stopped accepting review copies, and, although I didn't make a formal announcement, it's working well for me. The number of books I was receiving was just way out of hand. Like you, I still do LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, but since I don't always get one of those, it's not so bad. I feel a lot less stressed (not to mention cluttered) now!

    I love the new layout, by the way!

  6. Oh, thanks for mentioning it. I commented on one of your earlier posts awhile ago (I think it was today) and when I saw your site I really thought 'oh god, has it been that long since I commented that I'd forgotten what this place looked like?' and was going to mention it but wondered if it might be true and felt bad.

  7. I'm liking the new layout – and supersmart to mention as an actual post. I'm one of those totally dependent on my Google reader.

    Would love to hear how you found the switchover to the new template, and if you're liking the 2- versus 3-columns.

  8. It's been a while since I took something for review, and I can't see taking anything more for a while. I'm not quite at the point where I'll declare it officially, but I'm not far off. And who can blame you? I totally understand!

  9. Lookin' good! I'm still attached to my two column layout…I feel so old-fashioned.

    I have two tours for September, then I've decided I'm taking the rest of the year off from accepting books for review.

  10. Ti – There are definitely perks to being married to a designer. He did our wedding invitations, too.

    I like the 3-column format a lot – and what's really cool about this one is that I actually have a 4-column section.

    TexasRed – I'll have to come over and check out your new look, too!

    Bibliolatrist – I suspect I'll make exceptions here and there, but it seemed like a good idea. I still like the ego boost of getting offered free books, but I miss feeling in control of when I read what I read.

    Michelle – I think it had been awhile between visits for you, but the change IS new, so don't feel bad :-)!

    Joy – Why bother making all the changes if people don't come to see them :-)?

    I set up a test blog and went through four or five templates before I settled on this one. It got less nerve-wracking as I got more experience, but finding the right template took the biggest chunk of time, I think. By the time I got to this one, it went pretty smoothly, but I wasn't changing platforms or moving to self-hosting, which really could have complicated things.

    Marie – I don't accept a lot of the offers, and I don't get nearly as many as some folks do, but it's getting to be a bit much even so. We'll see how it goes.

    SusanDemo Tapes 2 is an exception, except that it really isn't, because I'm buying that :-).

    And I don't think my TBR is quite in the league of yours just yet…

    Jill (Softdrink) – It was just bothering me how far down the side that column went, so I wanted to split it up. And I like the "lowerbar" options this template has too – it's given me even more ways to use the space. But I saw some two-column templates that almost made me change my mind.

    Even if I don't take any more review books this year, I probably won't get through all the ones I already have before NEXT year!

  11. Kim – Thanks! If I remember correctly, a new header was one of my Blog Improvement Project goals – I guess I've exceeded that, with a whole new layout :-).

  12. Hmm, I might have to look into changing mine if it's free. Mine is blah, and old.

    I'll come to you for help with CSS if I need it. πŸ™‚

    Am I the only one that finds the picture of the hand odd? I think it has something to do with the way it is showing the number two. I've never seen anyone do it that way. It makes the hand look weird. Is that stange for me to focus on that? πŸ™‚

  13. Mike – I'm by no means a CSS expert, but I can decipher a style sheet a little bit now :-). There are a lot of good, free templates out there to choose from, and if you don't have a lot of widgets or custom features you want to keep, you may not have to play with the CSS at all.

    Now that you mention it, that hand looks a little odd to me too. However, you are the only one who mentioned it :-).

  14. I've pretty much stopped accepting review copies too. I have been feeling overwhelmed and not enjoying my reading as much as I should…but there are always exceptions, and I still find myself accepting a few here and there!