Monday, October 22, 2012

The Real Reason To Read A Professional Review

Was it necessary to call this article Are Professional Book Reviewers Better Than Amateurs?

I do enjoy reading a professional review written by someone with knowledge of the author and/or genre or, in the case of nonfiction, the subject. But it seems as if the people who publish these articles about professional reviews being better than amateur reviews instead of merely different are trying to incite a riot.

Additionally, many of these articles don't do a good job of explaining why professional reviews are professional. Consider the following paragraph from Are Professional Book Reviewers Better Than Amateurs?

"Consider the standard print review of a book in, say, the Observer, the Times, the TLS or the New York Review of Books. Such a review will usually run somewhere between 500 and 1,500 words. Before publication, it will be subjected to a prolonged and intense process of subediting. Crucially, it will be signed, and usually paid for. Compared with the raw material of your average blog, it has been refined and distilled to within an inch of its life."

What am I to make of that? That professional reviews are good because they're long and edited and the reviewers take ownership of their work and get paid for it? No, people! No! That's not it at all! Well-done professional reviews are good because the reviewers know something. They have a background in their subject. They understand what good writing should be, they are able to use that understanding to analyze a piece of work, and they're able to express their thoughts intelligibly.

You know what would be really cool? And I mean "cool" as in "interesting?" To have a professional reviewer and an amateur reviewer review the same book and walked their readers through their thought processes and how they came to view the piece of writing the way they did. I would love to read that. I might even pay to read that.

No comments: