When the review sections of newspapers began their decline a few years back, some of their advocates tried to save them by claiming that if print reviews disappeared, the world would be left with nothing but on-line reviews " written by someone who uses the moniker NovelGobbler or Biografiend." Newspaper reviews were "intellectual" while on-line review sites were "a childish free-for-all." (Michael Dirda quoted at Chasing Ray--see link in original post). Saving humanity from litblog reviews was a major reason for maintaining your local newspaper's book section.
Yeah, well, that ship has sailed now, hasn't it? Marketing these days is all about blog tours and social media. Of course, reviews are supposed to be about criticism, not marketing, but the publishing world only cares about them because they can be used to sell, sell, sell. And a blog tour and social media can be used for that, too, so print reviewers had a hard time getting a lot of support.
The links to the National Book Critics Circles' blog Critical Mass in my original post and in Chasing Ray now lead to a message saying you need to be invited to access them. However, Critical Mass does still exist and appears open to all. I couldn't find the posts Colleen Mondor and I linked to in its archive, though I did find a reference to the NBCC's Campaign to Save Book Reviewing. I don't know how long it went on or how it ended, if it ended.
April 28, 2007 Does Anyone Else Understand This?
The way this whole Save The Review Section, Save Western Civilization movement has turned into an anti-literary blog campaign is fascinating in a "Hey! Look at the five-legged frog!" sort of way. How are newspaper review sections and litblogs connected? I know plenty of people here in the carbon-based world (winky for you, Sheila) who get all their news from Internet sources, but I don't know a soul who gets all of his or her book information from the Internet.
Are the traditional book critics just looking for a dog to kick?
I've started visiting Critical Mass, "the blog of the national book critics circle board of directors." Yesteryday's post Flat Screen Differs From The Book goes on for a while about the difference between reading on a monitor and reading a book, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what bringing up computers has to do with the writer's passion for books, which she talks about later in the piece, and her desire to see them reviewed. Why bring up computers at all? What was the point?
I enjoy a newspaper book section, myself, and have good reason to want to save them. After all, so long as they exist, there's always the possibility one of my books will be reviewed in some of them. Therefore, I certainly hope the pro-review warriors have a better weapon in their arsenal than complaining about litblogs.