As a World Famous Blogger*, I’m a Bit Offended

From the otherwise lovely Friday Procrastination Link Love from the OUP Blog, I read this piece about a day in the life of a book publicist. It amused me, until I got to the part where the anonymous author mentions sending images of book covers to blogger who write “reviews”.

“Reviews” in scare quotes, because bloggers surely aren’t real reviewers. They’re just some of the little uneducated people out there who don’t live in New York City and have nothing better to do than share their personal, uninformed opinions about all and sundry.

And “real” book reviewers? …share their personal opinions about books.

I thought the whole “it’s on a blog so it’s not real/official/journalistic/scholarly/whatever” was over, people.

*Well, I do have loyal readers on several continents!


Filed under Blogging, Books, Rants, Writing

11 responses to “As a World Famous Blogger*, I’m a Bit Offended

  1. Too many bloggers are of the fanboy/girl persuasion, giving the equivalent of “Thumbs up” or “thumbs down” (or, even worse “this rocked!” or “this sucked!”). In depth analysis is what is required, carefully composed commentaries on the works being reviewed. Not enough bloggers manage that feat and, as a result, their credibility as critics is, to say the least, questionable…

  2. You are right! Though since the article was a jab at many media outlets I decided not to take it too personally.

  3. Cliff: Thanks for visiting and commenting. True, blogging does lend itself to/attract people who seem to be only capable of “thumbs up/down” writing.

    But if you say something enough times…everyone thinks it’s true. And then you’re leaving out all the thoughtful writers and reviewers who choose to publish their thoughts on blogs. (Like yourself!)

    I guess my main point here was that reviews are, in essence, opinions. They may have more or less scholarly thoughts behind them, more or less footnotes and references, more or less column inches. To brush off bloggers is to brush off the power of the medium, which was surprising, this article coming from a publicist–who I would have thought would be eager for the kind of viral marketing that blog reviews offer.

    Funny how the writer mentions The Kite Runner and Eat, Pray, Love and says sneeringly, “who hasn’t read them yet?” Who indeed, thanks to the online presence of reviewers. And then the publicist is happy to market a mother/daughter novel to Vogue and The Today Show, those bastions of in depth analysis!

  4. Wouldn’t it be the publicist’s responsibility to cultivate contacts with bloggers who could provide a review worthy of the book, rather than the boring and unhelpful thumbs up or down? There’s more out here than product placement with 100 words, as on Daily Candy.

    But it would take research and judgment to match each book with its proper blogger and blog audience. It could be done, but it doesn’t look like it’s being pursued by this person.

    Perhaps this particular publicist is not open-minded enough to see the true opportunity. Or perhaps the problem has more to do with the publishing industry being a slow adopter of new ideas.

    It will take more time for insiders to apply the opportunities blogs offer to their business plans. It’s much easier for the experienced higher-ups to rely on the old ways and keep phoning the Today Show, because that’s what they know. And that’s what they teach to their up-and-coming colleagues.

    Big changes happen so slowly because of generational issues. Newcomers have lots of fresh ideas about approaching the business, but who cuts the checks and grants the raises? The industry veterans. And they don’t have enough staff to have someone spend a lot of time on methods — like blog reviews — that have not yet proven their dependable worth. It’s still seen as a crap shoot.

    All we can do is blog well and wait. The recognition will come, as they say, as an overnight success after 10 years of hard work. We must blog on!

  5. How funny: lately I have been searching via Google Blogger search instead of the standard google! I much prefer bloggers reviews as they are freely given without any (paid)corporate bias. Moreover, judging others by my own standards, I am well-educated and well-read, choosing to blog about one portion of my life; who am I to assume that other bloggers are any different?

  6. Julie: Thank you for your informed perspective on the publishing business. Blog on!

    Seems like product marketers have caught on to the potential of blogs much more rapidly than publishers–several of the blogs I read often receive sample products to review. And the funny thing is, if you could identify a few bloggers that have a steady readership and long-term devotion to blogging, it would be so little effort to develop a relationship with them to do book reviews.

    Goodwitch: I’ve never tried Google Blogger search. Now I’ll have to try it out. I think you’re hitting on a key point of blogging: specialization. I would think it would be perfect targeted marketing to solicit reviews from bloggers who focus on certain topics, as many do. For example, my wonderful blog friend Charlotte has recently written several thoughtful reviews of books about AIDS and Africa, and her readers come from a wide range of locations and interests.

  7. Nana

    This may be a perfect example of the dumbing down of America. Then again, it could be an effective marketing tool aimed at a certain demographic group. This would be the same group which searches daily for latest news of the tremendously talented, enthusiastically emulated, idolized icon (have you guessed it yet?) Paris Hilton.

    The thoughtful book reviews can be found in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. And you can get them online!

  8. Oh poo, I was all geared up to write a book review tomorrow as well! I have to admit, I’m much likely to read a book I’ve heard about through a blog review than through an official literary review. I find I’m rather sceptical and distrusting of official reviews. Perhaps I see bloggers more as “real people” and am more inclined to think: “they’re like me”.

  9. I meant “much more likely”. My brain’s not working today.

  10. Nana: Perhaps both the general dumbing down, and the stubbornness of the intellectual elite in not embracing new technologies.

    Helen: Please, do still do your book review! As you say, often “informal” reviews are more powerful…which is the value that blogs bring to these kinds of traditional kinds of writing.

  11. I’ll probably post my review in the next few days. I have a feeling you might like the author…!

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