2007 seems to have turned into the year of the disappearing book section as newspapers around the world are eliminating or cutting back on the space that they allow for book reviews and book news. I don't pretend that the average blogger writes the type of review found in most literary sections and magazines, but I do think that ours have a place in the hierarchy, especially among readers interested in the thoughts of "amateur reviewers," the ones who still read for pleasure rather than for a paycheck.
Jay Smith over at Vue Weekly quotes Lou Morin, general manager of Edmonton’s NeWest Press, who puts it this way:
"...these days simply getting a review is a good thing, regardless of what it actually says.I find her words to be encouraging, enough motivation to keep me talking about books and hoping that it helps, at least a little, to get the word out to people who might have otherwise never noticed some of the books I spend so much time with every day.
Every time we see a review published, a little cheer goes up in the office. Book reviews are of utmost importance in terms of getting the word out. A good review can really increase interest in a book, and pique the curiosity of readers to go to a bookstore or library. It’s really a key marketing tool.
NeWest publishes 12 books a year and getting half a dozen reviews for a given title is doing really well.”
Though Morin doesn’t have a solution for getting more reviews published, she does think it’s vital we find a way to increase not only the number of reviews, but the critical discourse within them.
“For our whole literary community,” she says, “reviews are essential to get people thinking and talking and reading.”