Sunday, June 07, 2009

While We're On The Subject Of Reviews

In the past, some of the main review journals directed their reviews toward professionals--librarians, for the most part, who were looking for information on books they might want to add to their collections. That's why some reviews included what most of us would consider spoilers. The reviews didn't spoil the books for the librarians, who couldn't possibly read all the books they needed to know about, anyway, but did give them information that helped them make purchasing decisions.

Library Journal has announced a change in its review policy. "The librarian-centric focus no longer makes sense in an electronic environment where our reviews appear in online catalogs and other resources that patrons use to find titles, place holds or make purchases, or even add their own comments. In the last few issues of LJ, we've begun to direct our assessment mainly toward the reader."

They've also introduced "a self-contained "Verdict" at the end of the review that sends the reader right to the reviewer's opinion." This "Verdict" aspect of the reviews, the Library Journal review editors believe, will make reviews more '"twitterable."' (To quote their quotation mark-emphasized word.)

So...how long has Twitter been around? Is it really so well established in our culture that it's time to be designing other media around it?

Link from the child_lit listserv.

3 comments:

Jen Robinson said...

I'm not sure about the twitter aspect, but I for one am happy about the change to direct reviews more towards readers. I've tended to steer away from the professional reviews, because I hate spoilers (and, of course, I'm looking more for books to read myself than books to buy for other people). Thanks for sharing this news.

gail said...

If I've got this right, years ago most kidlit sales were institutional. Thus, librarians were buying most children's books for municipal and school libraries. They weren't necessarily reading everything they purchased because how could they? So, yes, they really did need to know everything about a book without having to read it. They needed spoilage.

I've heard there was a shift sometime in the last decade or so. I believe that now there are at least as many personal buyers as institutional ones, and, yes, people who are buying for their own reading aren't going to want to put down good, hard cash for books if they know what's going to happen. (We may be talking paperback personal buyers as well as hardcover.)

The market for reviews has thus changed.

I must say, though, that I've heard some concern about the change voiced by professionals who need the reviews with spoilage.If "holding back" in reviews becomes common practice, it could become a problem for them.

Jen Robinson said...

I can certainly see the problem with a librarian buying a book like, say (back in the day) Bridge to Terebithia, not knowing how it ends, and sticking it on the shelf. For most books, there's a reasonable balance, but some are going to be tricky. It will be interesting to see how this evolves. Me, I'm going to keep writing most of my books for the reader, but mentioning it if I think there's a particular gotcha that parents or librarians should know about. If I can manage that, anyway.