Today it seems pretty much anyone can be a book reviewer.
I suppose even cave men had a few neighbours dropping by critiquing their latest scrawls on the wall. But for the most part, until the advent of internet, blogs and then social media, book reviewing was the purview of a handful of professionals who cashed cheques written by serious newspapers, magazines and the odd mobster with a sweetie who wrote some poems.
Today the field has grown exponentially. Everyone who has access to a computer keyboard can write a book review which has the potential to be read by millions and affect the success or failure of a book and perhaps its author.
So who should we listen to?
My latest website poll asked readers to ponder the following: “I most rely on book reviews…”
One wise respondent shared this: “Thoughtful reviews in any venue influence me more than rants.”
But is that always the case with everyone? Does the loudest, most brazen, most viral review top them all?
At the bottom of the pack of possible responses, attracting the least amount of votes at around 6% each were three very big surprises:
Reviews that appear…
…in literary journals
…on online bookseller sites
And the one I really didn’t expect
Now the last response may simply be a matter of Goodreads being a lesser known source of book reviews than literary journals and online booksellers, both of which have been around a lot longer and have much greater visibility.
The next level up, at over 10% of votes were two ‘hard copy’ options:
Reviews that appear on book covers
Reviews that appear in the newspaper
The source of book reviews which has probably gained the most momentum over the past several years came next at 15%:
Book reviews that appear in a book reviewer’s blog.
One response sat all alone at the top of the pile, taking in over 25% of the responses.
Can you guess?
Think old school.
The best source of book reviews comes in the form of…
Yup, good old word of mouth. Readers most trust a review that comes in the form of a person, be it a friend, bookseller, librarian, somebody on a bus.
Kind of give you hope for mankind?
Now lets turn our attention to books written in a series.
How long should they last? 3 books? 5? 12? 25? Forever? There are famous ones like The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Harry Potter, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series – now at ‘W is for Wasted’ – is faithfully making its way towards its predetermined end. Is that a good thing? Has it lasted too long? Or are you worried about what will happen to the world as you know it when ‘Z is for Zamboni’ (my idea, not hers) comes out?
My next website poll asks the question: How much is too much? How much is not enough? Cast your votes at: