Warning: unwanted suggestions and advice ahead, with this blog entry no doubt coming off as self-important and all-knowing if that is how you choose to interpret my tone!
I have a soft spot for AAR even if my reading taste and that of the reviewers there have diverged so much to the point that I rarely find their reviews as useful as they once were when it comes to selecting my purchases. (Then again, I rarely find reviews on other places useful either - I think my reading preferences and tastes are probably on the eccentric side.) But they were a nice place to hang out once upon a time, so it's great to see them trying to keep up with the Smart Bitches and Dear Author folks when it comes to staying relevant and up to date.
Yes, changes are fast coming to All About Romance, one of the earliest and still one of the most useful romance online hangout around. You may remember that the founder, Laurie Gold, decided to retire from her administrative duties on AAR, leaving the running of the site to the remaining long-running staff members.
So far, they have done what I believe should have been done a long time ago (and therefore, this makes those decisions the right ones, heh). They have combined the "What we reviewed" and "What you read" boards into one simpler forum where people can discuss the reviews of the books by AAR as well as books not yet reviewed by AAR. The forums are still too "traditional" in terms of the reading taste of the regulars for me to make them a place that I can "click with", but this revamp and the promise of a less stringent moderation (one that will no longer be overly fixated on what you can say and where you can post your thoughts, at least) will be a good way, I feel, to go some way in rebutting the unspoken consensus among some ex-AAR forum folks that the place was too fixated on artificial boundaries to be a fun place to relax and hang out.
Then they have a blog started where they will put up industry news at what I'd presume is real time rate. This is a much-needed move for a site that wants to be the "in" place to go when it comes to the hottest news and industry gossip, so good for them! (Aside: Mary Balogh has four new books out in four months? Ugh. But of course, since she's Mary Balogh, I'm sure her fans will never admit that this move will severely compromise the quality of her books, the same way her back-to-back books in the last few years are sewer pipe material compared to her early works.)
Now, if they would revamp the front page so that it is less wordy and the links to all their subsections are more prominently displayed. And rope in some people who actually enjoy reading erotic romance, AA romances, gay romances, and ebooks without acting as if they have been forced to read those books by having a gun pointed at their foreheads. The ebook culture or gay romance genre doesn't have to be the primary focus of the site - which has been on mainstream print books so far - but I feel at the same time that one can't claim to be the #1 site on romance without covering other genres as well as romance subcultures that were new... oh, three years ago, after all. Not without coming off as isolationist or out of touch, anyway.