Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Arrivederci, Europa Challenge

For the past five years now I've run the Europa Challenge, a blogging challenge for bloggers who incorporate books published by Europa Editions into their reading and reviewing. At the end of this year I'm wrapping it up.

The URL is I'm ending the Challenge due to diminishing participation. At our height we had posts going up almost every week; now we're down to maybe one or two a month, just me and one other person, and mostly just me. So it's time to go.

But we've had a lot of fun in five years. Here are some fun facts and statistics about the challenge.

In five years we had
  • 38 reviewers/bloggers posting about 
  • 250 reviews of 111 books 
  • by 77 authors,  
  • as well as 3 giveaways and
  • a holiday book exchange.
Random Statistics:
  • Most reviewed book: Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson (8 reviews)
  • Most reviewed author: Elena Ferrante (13 reviews)
  • Most viewed review: Barbara B.’s review of Audrey Schulman’s Three Weeks in December with over 1000 page views
  • Most popular search term: Europa Challenge
  • Most-searched-for author: Alexander Maksik
  • Most viewers come from the United States and Russia
  • Average monthly page views: 1000
  • Most Active Reviewers: Me with 51 reviews, and Josh with 33 reviews
A few selected quotes from Europa Challenge reviewers:

Trish R. says of My Brilliant Friend “Ferrante captures the uncertainty and confusion of youth.”
Josh says Caryl Ferey’s Mapuche “keeps the reader locked.”
Helen G. says Jean-Claude Izzo’s A Sun for the Dying “gave me a double dose of insight into the plight of the homeless.”
Nancy says Valery Panyushkin’s 12 Who Don’t Agree is “a definite must-read that gets well beyond news stories we listen to with only half an ear.”
Suzanne says Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s The Most Beautiful Book in the World is “an apt description for the entire book.”

Readers enjoy the plots, characters, writing and social messages in the books, and the books are like potato chips- you can't read just one. Once you get hooked on the brand, you're hooked.

A few years ago Europa launched their World Noir initiative which rebranded their international crime line and moved them to the mystery section of the bookstore. That helped bring a whole new set of readers to the brand and expand their reach even further. Their crime novels have always been favorites of mine and it was great to see this change.
For most people the "gateway book" was Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I'll bet the recent success of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet will change that and more readers will come to the brand through those very successful books.

Personal highlights for me include the friendships I've made through the blog, and my two visits to the Europa Editions office in NYC and one to their headquarters in Rome, where I got to meet company founders Sandro and Sandra Ferri.

So thanks to all the readers and bloggers who contributed, and thanks to Michael Reynolds and everyone at Europa Editions who's been so supportive of the blog for the past five years!

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