Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blogs and book reviews

There seems to have been a controversy raging about bloggers who write book reviews in their blogs and how this could threaten the established world of reviewing in the mainstream press. It was stirred by these articles written by John Sutherland and Rachel Cooke and entries on Susan Hill's blog.

Perhaps one of the most balanced pieces about how ridiculous this all is has been written on Normblog. Do people really think that we are so naive that we don't realise that reviews and promotions are manipulated by the media and the publishers? It is no different to Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh shamelessly promoting their other artistes, who just happen to have new albums out, as special guests on The X-Factor.

I don't buy books solely on the basis of a press review or even the reviews of bloggers or Amazon buyers. I buy because I already know and enjoy the author, perhaps because the synopsis or even just the cover appeals. I buy many of my books in charity shops, so I can take risks with authors I don't know without wasting too much money and if I don't like it I just recycle it straight back to another charity shop. If I was more mercenary and organised I could sell them on. When I am uncertain about a book or author I try to find the book in a local shop and look at it before buying it new. So although I do read book reviews in the quality press they really don't influence me much at all, although I do sometimes laugh at the pomposity of the reviewers.

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