Thursday, June 07, 2007

Blog reviews

That most excellent writer Patti Abbott recently talked about, among other things, the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of blog reviews.

PA:" I wish I believed that blog reviews really helped writers much. But the general public still thinks of them as bogus. When I talk about seeing a book reviewed on a blog, people look at me like I'm talking about the one-page newspaper I used to put out in elementary school with my trusty printing press." Patti Abbott

Ed here: I think one of the reasons blog reviews aren't taken seriously is the names of the sites on which they appear. I'm a bit more than half-serious here. Take my own blog name, for instance.

TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"A triumph of betrayl and passion."
The New York Times

"Perhaps Fitzgerald's most profound novel."
The Paris Review

"Without question Fitzgerald's masterpiece."

"Engrossing from first page to last."
newimproved gorman

Now just what the hell is a newimprovedgorman, anyway?

Eventually book readers will catch up with reviews posted on blogs. But for now site names send many readers into culture shock. How seriously can you take a review that is attributed to "Bras, Boobs and Knuckle Sandwiches?"

Maybe all my public relations years are guiding me here. Maybe I'm being a prig. But I think decorousness plays at least a small role in the usefulness of blog reviews, particularly when it comes to using quotes that go on the front and back covers of books.

"You won't want to miss this one!"
I Throw Dung In Your

See what I mean?


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent observation. Dignity counts. A lack of it signals something to readers. Some Internet publications with reasonably dignified names seem to garner some respect and even some credibility. But most blog reviews are read for amusement rather than for guidance about a book. They are written to be entertainment and readers treat them as entertainment.

I have argued elsewhere that most bloggers are tastemakers and do not offer serious critical analysis of books. Tastemakers can be capsulized as: "I like this, I don't like that, I'm hip so follow me."

Richard S. Wheeler

Anonymous said...

Ed, my best review for my Rat Pack book, EVERYBODY KILLS SOMEBODY SOMETIME, was on Bookgasm, by Mel Odom. How do you put "Bookgasm" on the cover of a book? Of course, it has since been syndicated and is on a dozen websites. I should just pick the one with the best name and then quote the review.

Of course, anyone with a computer can set themselves up as a blogger, and as a blog reviewer. That, in itself, would keep the publishing world at large from taking them seriously. Dick's right, for the most part there's no "critique" just "I liked this" or "I didn't like this." And thefew that are good are getting lost in the shuffle.