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Wall Street Journal Highlights Librarians' Podcast

Beth Hatch and Cari Dubiel's folksy approach makes their ABC Book Review Podcast a standout.

The  didn't get much attention when it launched back in the summer of 2007 -- and that was okay.

Its creators, Beth Hatch and Cari Dubiel, librarians at the , just started a new podcast because they thought it could be fun.

The library had purchased the podcast equipment for a news segment it was running, but Hatch and Dubiel had another idea. They wanted to record their own podcast to review books from all genres.

"We were like, 'Hey, why don't we just talk about books, that'd be fun!'" Hatch said.

They listened to other podcasts, but realized many of them weren't interesting.

The only one they liked, How Stuff Works, isn't even about books. But the two admired the chemistry between hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark. Hatch and Dubiel decided to adopt the style for their podcast adventure.

"It was still fun to listen to two guys hanging out," Hatch said.

Five years later, that same conversational style got the librarians recognized by the The Wall Street Journal. Columnist Cynthia Crossen featured the pair in her Aug. 13 column of "Dear Book Readers," entitled "The Best Book Podcasts".

Crossen said listening to them is like overhearing two women talking on a bus.

Read Crossen's column in The Wall Street Column here.

The duo tries to structure their topics and discussions before the tape starts rolling, but like any two women on a bus, the unscripted, unedited conversation can go anywhere.

"We go off on tangents at times," Dubiel said. "It is basically just us talking."

"It is, and we're usually drinking coffee," Hatch added, referring to another review that compares the podcast to women chatting in a coffee shop.

Even after five years of recording together, the women aren't slowing down or getting bored. In fact, they use their time in studio (really Hatch's library office) to catch up and chat.

"We're friends, so it's like our time to hang out and talk about what we normally would, even if we weren't recording ourselves," Hatch said. "It's more conversational, it's not someone lecturing at you."

"Yeah, sometimes we have the same topics at lunch that we do on the podcast," Dubiel added.

Although their first listeners were family members, the podcast now draws listeners from across the nation and around the world -- as far away as Norway.

"It's really fun getting reactions from people who aren't just friends and family," Hatch said.

Tracking accurate numbers is difficult because of the system they use, but their last accurate reading was up to 3,000 hits over the span of month, nearly a year ago.

Crossen's piece singles out the podcast for the easy way that book lovers can connect to the librarians' conversation.

In her column, Crossen quoted an exchange in one of the podcasts discussing the book Please Ignore Vera Dietz to illustrate her point about their casual conversations: 

'Please Ignore Vera Dietz' was very good; I forget who wrote it."

"What was that about?"

"Honestly, I don't remember much about it except that I really liked it. It was really well structured, it was a teen book, it was about the main character, Vera Dietz, and there were some other things that happened that I don't remember but I really liked it, I just read it so fast I don't remember it. I'd have to go back and read it."

Hatch said she decided to keep that banter in the podcast because it was humorous and fit their style.

"I thought, 'That's funny; I bet people can relate to that," she said.

Being featured in a major news publication like The Wall Street Journal was exciting, but their first reaction to the piece wasn't entirely positive.

Although Crossen's piece was complimentary overall, the librarians were smarting just a bit from Crossen's observation on how "both very much like the word 'like.'"

Even so, both women are happy to be featured in an column highlighting the best book podcasts -- no matter how often they use the 'L' word.

"We do say 'like' a lot," Hatch agreed. 

Click here to find the ABC Book Review Podcast.

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