Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Book Reviews

I like to think that all of the work so many of us do to spread the word about the books we read is doing some good in the great scheme of things, that maybe we help sell a few copies of books that would otherwise end up being trashed or recycled into oblivion. Of course, since we are a pretty honest group of folks, we might have a negative impact on the sales of some books, too, because we are definitely not shy about sharing our thoughts on those books that just don't work for us.

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.

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.”
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.
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