Thursday, October 21, 2010

So, you don't read reviews...

I've read a lot of quotes recently by folks who say they never read book reviews. That even if they do read a book review, it never influences their decision on whether to buy a book or not.

I've read that most people rely on verbal recommendations by friends because they don't trust reviewers. I've read quotes by folks that if a review is positive, they don't trust it. Or if the review is negative, they don't trust it.

But then, as one who publishes a web site for book reviews, I have hundreds of emails from authors looking for reviews.

So my big question for all those folks who don't read reviews and who don't trust reviewers is:

Are you out there asking people to review your book when you yourself don't read reviews or trust them? If so, how do you reconcile this disconnect?

I honestly would like to know why folks lament the demise of the book review sections of major newspapers, and the fact that there are so few places that actually review the books of small presses, when so many folks seem to run screaming from book reviews unless the book being reviewed is their own?

All this makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and never write another book review again. Why am I doing this? It certainly isn't to make money. God knows berniE-zine never has, nor will it ever, pay for its own web hosting services.

Why should I continue to bother, if book reviews are so unimportant that no one bothers to read them and, even if they do, they're not influenced one way or the other?

Is there anyone out there who still loves reading book reviews? Hello...? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?


drew said...

Bernadette -
I just recently discovered your blog. I'm enjoying it.

I read reviews, but I will admit that I am a skimmer. I like to get a taste of the book's style, tone and story rather than a blow-by-blow synopsis, which seems to be the way of many reviews. I also don't care for reviews written to show off the reviewer's skill/ experience/ background.

Perhaps I ask too much.

All that said: Keep Writing! With so many books in the world, we need some paths through the forest.

Giulia said...

Hi Bernadette,

I read reviews, as well. There is a kerfluffle (& I am one of the kerfluffed) about reviews written by those who have a conflict of interest (or anything else--like a big feud) with the author. This happens more often than it should.

Otherwise, I'm behind in my reading (all of it, reviews, etc) & so am unaware that there's a "I don't read reviews & I'm proud of it" crowd. I believe you, I just did not know it.

I agree with Drew...there is so much out there. I use more than a review (normally) for choices but I do pay attention to reviews. I always look to see who the reviewer is, what their bias is (if I know, if not I find out...this is if I'm close to buying it, or even reading it).


Karen J. Weyant said...

I read reviews (and write reviews, too). However, when I go to buy poetry books, I also look for other work by the poet online. So, I guess one could say that reviews are a great starting out point!