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Questioning the relevance of book reviews

A recently posted piece on TheBookseller.com rekindles an old and widely held contention regarding the effectiveness of reviews in selling books. Granted, the piece has its flaws: it is scattershot and far too brief to cover the scope it attempts, and its writer, Damian Horner, works in marketing and promotions, not in the publishing industry, and thus appears somewhat unacquainted with the quirks and unique challenges of the book biz. Yet Horner does make some interesting, if underdeveloped, points. His main charge is that hyperbolic review quotes appear on so many book covers that these quotes cease to mean much to potential readers. He also criticizes a so-called overabundance of reviews in the press, while vaunting the Internet’s role in providing more balanced coverage. According to Horner, readers’ distrust of the conventional gushing review has contributed to the growing importance of book clubs, word of mouth, and popular TV book coverage – such as on The Oprah Winfrey Show and on the U.K.’s Richard and Judy Book Club – on book sales. This trend, says Horton, is something publishers should cash in on. “I suspect we will soon see publishers working much more closely with bloggers and reading groups,” he says.

Related links:
Click here for Horner’s piece on TheBookseller.com