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Abstract Reading and writing book reviews play an important part in academic life, but little is known about how academics carry out these tasks. The aim of this research was to explore these issues with members of the editorial panels of the British Journal of Educational Technology. A questionnaire was used to determine: (1) how often these people read and wrote book reviews in general; (2) how useful they found them; and (3) what features they thought were important in book reviews. Thirty sets of responses were obtained (15 from each sex). Most respondents reported reading between one and five book reviews a month and writing between three and four a year. Overall, there was high agreement in what they thought were the important features of book reviews, but there were also wide individual differences. Men reported that book reviews were more useful than did women. The agreement obtained among the respondents supports the notion that book reviews can be viewed as an academic genre with measurable contents. This has implications for how they are written and how people might be taught to write them better.