Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Reviewing

Today’s article was submitted our way by William Yatscoff – Marketing Manager for Bookkus Publishing an independent publisher based in Canada focusing on eBooks and paperbacks selling via online stores and independent bookstores. He has experience working with several start-ups and focuses most of his energy on marketing and the Bookkus community. William prides himself on his ability to create solutions from nothing and does not understand the word ‘impossible’. His avid love for reading and his desire to improve the publishing industry were clear reasons for Bookkus to begin. William’s article will give us an overview of the past, present, and future of book reviewing, and will discuss how the quantity, quality, and integrity of reviews have affected the industry.

The World of Book Reviewing

Past – Challenges of Becoming a Book Reviewer

Before the mass use of the Internet, the doors to book reviewing were harder than ever to open and book reviewing was a powerful tool for only the few. The quality of reviews was usually okay and the integrity of the reviewers was unknown.

People found new books in only a few ways. They asked a friend, read a newspaper/magazine, see it on TV or search in a library. This gave lots of power to publishers while authors were forced to whatever terms they could receive. Book reviewers were paid well by media outlets, but it seemed like a good system at the time.

The options of book discovery were quite limited and the power of the few choices was large. This created a huge power for the media. Newspapers and television was a huge influence on buyers. If an author’s book made it into the newspaper for a review it had a good chance of being read by most readers. Television was less likely to review a book, but it still had the same effect on readers.

The editor of the media outlet dictated review quality. If the editor liked the review writer then it was fine for the newspaper, but readers may not have agreed and avoided that section of the paper. Quality of a review really depends on how much a reader can relate to the writer and with the old review channels this was limited to one or two people.

If you knew the book reviewer you had an in that no one else had. You were sure to get your book reviewed and positively compared with anyone else. This is not to mention the deals between publishers and the writer/newspaper. How strong was the integrity of giving impartial reviews to books? That is a good question that we won’t see answer.

In the past becoming a book reviewer was a difficult task for anyone and getting a review for a book was equally as hard. Being a book reviewer was a good job since it was a steady and well-read section in most newspapers.

Present – Book Reviewers Rampant

The world has changed since the internet opened the doors for anyone to become a book reviewer and for anyone to publish a book. These two advents allowed for the normal person’s book review power to increase exponentially while increasing the demand for book reviews in the world. This has had positive and negative effects on the reviewing world.

I can create a book reviewing blog in about 2 minutes (per site) on about 10-20 different sites. That is a pretty amazing. This means that anyone can become a book reviewer at any time they want. There are very few barriers to entry. To become a book reviewer who makes money take more patience. Think about how easy it is and how many non-incorporated entities can create book reviews. Their reviews are probably just as good as any newspaper or magazine.

With quantity - comes quality issues. Amazon is finding this out. How many reviews on Amazon are real? How about Goodreads? There are so many sites for providing reviews online with so many fake reviews being posted quality has dropped significantly. Quality is now on some blogs who have reviewing guidelines for ensuring readers understand the blogs reviewing policy. Newspapers still provide quality, but integrity is still an issue.

Integrity is at an all-time low for book reviewing on buying sites and potential other sites. It is easier than ever to buy reviews for products with no repercussions. This damages readers and authors. People are less likely to trust unknown sources of information. Although this has always been a problem online, it is a growing concern. When people become a book reviewer they often think of money instead of values. There are many quality review sites online, but you need to find them.

Future Book Reviewing in 2013

The future of book reviewing is going to be closer and more tight knit and in your circle. Instead of Amazon showing you people’s reviews of books who you do not know, they will show you your mom’s review of ‘A Game of Thrones’ (which still might encourage you to buy it).

The quantity of book reviewers is only going to increase, but only the strongest will prevail. Many big reviewers will survive based on their integrity and quality of reviews. Anyone lacking these qualities will disappear.

If you are planning to become a book reviewer or already a book reviewer it is important to think of the quality and integrity of your review into the future. Without these you won’t make it far. The ability for people to sniff through bad reviews or make one bad buying decision based on your words is spread too quickly and easily for you to survive. 

Book reviewing is only growing stronger in the future. If you can write well with integrity you will only see positive things when you become a book reviewer. The world of book reviewing is a great place to start since it is only getting bigger.

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