|Edgar Allan Poe|
From The Guardian:
(I encourage you to click over to the original article for much more. While there, follow the links embedded in the article for a reminder of how authors have felt about book reviews over the centuries.)
I agree with the newspaper that both types of book review play an important (and, hopefully, influential) role in modern day bookselling. The link between the increasing number of online reviews and the dwindling number of print reviews cannot be denied. More and more, readers seem to rely on peer opinion more than they do on the opinions of professional reviewers. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it is understandable. Let's face it. The average reader is more interested in reading what his peer group is reading than in what a professional reviewer tells him he should be reading. I read a lot - a whole lot - and I still sometimes get the feeling that professional critics are reviewing for each other, not for the rest of us.
More books are being reviewed today then ever before and those reviews cover a wider variety of books than in the past. Major newspapers and magazines tend to review much the same list of books, the "important" ones written by respected, or highly commercial, authors. Everyone else is on their own. Online review sites, while not immune to the same kind of overlapping, certainly cover a wider range of books, authors, and genres than is being covered by their print cousins. Small publisher books are being discovered every hour by readers who would have never heard of them if it were not for the online reviews. Books and authors that would have never found an audience are managing to find readers - and amateur reviewers are happy to play a role in spreading the word about them.
There is plenty of room for all of us.