Blow off all your blog reading for today, and maybe tomorrow, so you can read Adventures in the Reviewing Trade: A Cultural Primer by Alex Good. This is a very, very long piece, but Good has lots and lots of interesting (note I didn't say "good," though I thought of it) things to say about book reviewing. And I'm not just saying that because he agrees with me that a bad review is better than no review. Though he does come right out and say it: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a bad review is better than no review at all."
Among the things he discusses:
How books get selected for review at newspapers
The promotional aspect of reviews vs. the critical aspect
How easy it is for reviewers to fall behind with their reviewing given the limited number of reviews they can publish, they huge number of books to review and the short shelf-life for new books
"Positive" reviews or "Making Nice"
Why readers prefer to read reviews of nonfiction to reviews of fiction
And, of course, the Internet
Something I found particularly interesting: "None of the print reviews that I’m aware of runs more reviews, or longer reviews, on their websites than they do in print. They have all the free space in the world – indeed an almost infinite amount –but we’re not seeing any explosion in reviewing. The Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail could double their number of book reviews online just for the cost of paying someone to write them. But they’re not. And there’s nothing stopping the CBC from running book reviews on their web-page. But it’s not very often they do."
I don't know if space on websites is free. Mine isn't. But it is interesting to consider whether or not the print reviews that are cutting back or shutting down couldn't move their operations to the Internet more economically and thus preserve review space.