Bookends - Friday, June 29, 2007 8:19 - 1 Comment

Adventures in the Reviewing Trade

Alex Good discusses reviewing at Canadian Notes & Queries:

I suspect a large part of this failure to engage a wider debate is the fact that so few Canadians have actually read the books being reviewed. And without that sense of a shared culture to feed on, reviews become only another disposable form of infotainment and advertising tossed into the void. This in turn leads to a downward spiral as reviewers both in print and online attempt to become the next Oprah or Richard and Judy and demonstrate their “power” to sell product, something they can only do by selling out.

To summarize: You’re seeing as much book reviewing in print, and probably even on the internet, now as you are ever likely to see. We’re not getting any more. There aren’t going to be more book reviews unless there’s a demand for more book reviews, and that demand does not exist. You aren’t going to get better book reviews unless there is a real critical debate about the quality of today’s book reviews, and that debate and that critique do not exist.

So, what do you think? CNQ doesn’t seem to have a comment system, so feel free to come back here and share your opinions.

(Via Bookninja)

1 Comment

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Shane Neilson
Jun 29, 2007 16:25


I think you’ve excerpted the depressing, but true, central point of Alex’s many points. Reviewing needs to be held to the same account as the writing of the book under review, and it isn’t. Even on this site, which is doing important work. I don’t think the argument about space is a valid one until we look at what we’re doing with the space we have.
I don’t think there are any reviewers in Canada who behave like Oprah, though. No one has the clout. (I’m sure Alex would say there are penty of wannabes, but who? Name names.) But the idea that reviews are becoming appendages of entertainment is one I agree with; that said, I doubt there’s anyone out there deluded enough to think that their review actually will influence the sales of a book. Does anyone consciously set out to say, REVIEWER TO THE RESCUE?

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