Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thoughts On Book Reviews From An Editor Of Same

Edward Champion of Reluctant Habits interviewed Keir Graff, a senior editor at Booklist, on the future of book reviews.

I do hate the use of positive and negative when discussing reviews. Graff's explanation regarding Booklist's original policy regarding so-called "positive" reviews makes sense, though--as a publication for librarians looking for information regarding what to purchase, what was the point of publishing anything but solid recommendations? He says that now, though, "there are books we recommend because there will be patron demand, but that we think are horrible, and we say that — hopefully helping larger libraries know how many copies to buy."

(I think, myself, that there are books that fall well between horrible and requiring a real recommendation that many librarians and readers would be interested in. Just a little aside.)

Graff makes a good point later in the interview: "Much is made of the web’s ability to give people exactly the experience they’re looking for, and that’s exactly why people should be wary of it. So it’s my belief that niche or specialist or genre blogs are terrific but should be balanced by some more general-interest reading, which, at least in terms of book reviews, is what we offer."

An example of what he's talking about--I read a tremendous number of kidlit blogs. My knowledge of what's being published in adult fiction is nowhere near as great as I'd like it to be. I'm guessing the same is true for readers of scifi litblogs, mystery litblogs, or any other specialized blog.

So we need to find review sources that deal with both analytical responses to books as well as a wide variety of types of books. Hmmm. Sort of like Kirkus Reviews. Except, of course, that's gone.

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