Calling All Book Bloggers!

     I was recently reading The Bookseller magazine (as I am now a bookseller myself) and I came across a great article by Scott Pack that stated that newspapers were missing a trick by not inviting book bloggers to place the odd review in print, blogging now being the more dynamic medium.

     Read the article in full here.

     What I'm wondering, dear book bloggers, is how you feel about this:
  • Would you like to be invited to contribute reviews to a print literary section?
  • Would it somehow formalise or legitimise what you do, being as it is that, by some, print journalists are viewed as professionals whilst bloggers are viewed as amateurs?
  • Or would you rather proudly commit to blogging as it is the future of reviewing in any case?

       Basically, what do you think?


  1. I have been invited to review for print, and I don't think it detracts from the blog. In fact, I like that it forces me to do a review-review instead of sometimes wandering about.

    Sure, I'd like more invitations, although how many papers care about Arabic literature in translation? The Guardian, and our local papers in Cairo of course, and...?

  2. Book blogs are now more influential to readers than the printed press. Journalists are often sent reviews either to get quotes in return, or for a rushed review because the release is imminent.

    I read one recently in a leading newspaper that was terrible. It was clear they had skimmed the book for the review. This is something that never happens on book blogs.

    Book bloggers are passionate about reading, and therefore their reviews are more astute to the qualities of the book in question.

    I have bought a large percentage of my books this year because of reviews on blogs. I have not bought a single one because of a newspaper review.

    It would be nice if there was actually a newspaper for bloggers, that featured the best posts of the day/week. Amazon could even feature it in their store so readers can see what the spectrum of book bloggers think about the book.

  3. Hi M. Lynx Qualey, you make a good point - maybe some of out blogging areas are too specialist or narrow for mainstream print news. Were you asked to review for print through your blog or another channel?

  4. Hey James, what a great idea! I love the thought of a blogging newspaper on Amazon, or even just a set-up for links back to blogs where they have reviewed certain books. Who do we know (virtually or otherwise) who could pursue this?

    I agree also, I don't think I've ever bought a book because of a newspaper review, but then I don't tend to buy new fiction. I'd much rather wallow in the backlists so blogs who talk about older and classic books are much more relevant to me.

    So would you be in the 'take pride in the fact that you operate on the more progressive platform' group?

    Also, did you ever write that Hay post?

  5. I too used to wallow exclusively in the backlists, but then realised so much fiction was passing me by.

    I certainly do take pride in operating on the more progressive platform group. I honestly could not imagine a world without bloggers now, especially book bloggers. It is going to be fascinating to see how they develop with technological advances.

    The newspaper is one of the many things that I believe is missing from the social networking side of the 21st century. The internet is now packed with posts that deserve a wider readership. This blog is no exception.

    At the moment we have those who use the i-newspapers showing the great links of the day. But that is something else entirely and I get included on them everyday and never retweet them. It's just a subtle way of someone trying to be retweeted to a wider audience.

    What the online community would relish is being able to read posts as articles in their own right, not links to posts. There have already been some terrific ones on Tolstoy is my Cat.

    There are many on Twitter who would be keen to take this further, and getting it onto Amazon is the easy part. Anyone can put their own blog on Amazon, so the newspaper would operate electronically as a blog feed to allow it to download daily to the users Kindle or computer.

    The biggest issue is getting permissions by those that write the posts.

    The post of mine you mentioned was written but never posted. In the bigger picture, a critical analysis of the Hay Festival could come back and haunt me. Although maybe it will find an online platform prior to the next festival....

  6. I like that in blogging I feel much more free to say what I want about a book - good, or really really bad. I like that my review can be as long or short as I want - I have full control. And I like that all my reviews are there in one place, so that people who read it can get an idea of my tastes and take that into account when I praise or criticise a book.

    Having said that, I think there would be benefits to reviewing for print publications. I prefer blogging, though.

  7. James, how interesting, I didn't know you could put blogs up on Amazon. Would getting permission be such an issue when there's no permission required for those newspaper-esque syndicators you mentioned? Something to look into, definitely. I'd certainly love to be involved.

    Maybe the Hay article could be published in a career retrospective 60 years from now... :)

  8. Hi Allie, the control is the thing, isn't it? It's true, writing to a spec and word count would be tres annoying after the freedom of blogging. You're right about the honesty thing too - I think the ethos of the newspaper does often need to be refelcted in the book choice and opinions given, which would be very limiting and a bit like having words put in your mouth.

    OK, well I think the consensus so far is we're all very happy blogging on our own platforms (and that newspapers possibly need us more than we need them.)

  9. A career retrospective is the best idea I've heard yet :-)

    Publish Your Blog on Amazon:

    You should also ask SunnySingstheBlues on Twitter who you follow. She managed to put her blog on the Kindle.

    I for one, would love to see Tolstoy is my Cat on my Kindle.

  10. James, you're a genius. Just signed up and it should be available in 48-72 hours. I'll do a blog post about it on Monday, all being well.


  11. I think it would be great to be asked to contribute reviews to a print literary section.

    But your second and third points? Aren't we beyond this petty crap about professionals and amateurs? There's a lot of amateur crap to be found on printed pages, and an enormous lot of professional stuff to be found online (and I mean in weblogs). So cut that crap already.

    And weblogging as "the future of reviewing"? Who says we can't have both?

  12. Hi Oxylogos, your point about there being plenty of dross in print and excellent stuff on blogs is actually what we're trying to say - we're not, by and large, so interested in getting print reviews offered to us as there is little distinction/difference nowadays, and certainly none of us belive it if there is. I just posed the question to provoke discussion.

    I'm sure we will continue to have both print and weblog reviews; I meant blogging as the 'future' in that it's set to grow as a platform, whilst print will continue as is or diminish (probably).

    Please don't tell me to 'cut that crap' - the point of asking these questions is to provoke a discussion that includes all viewpoints.

  13. what an interesting idea being invited to post reviews on newspaper sites, but really shouldn't they be paying, rather than inviting?

    I'd like to see a list of book reviews from bloggers. I know my partner and I at War Through the Generations do this with book reviews sent into us for our various challenge topics...so far we have WWII, Vietnam, and Civil War, we hope to continue expanding these lists and creating new ones.

  14. Hi Serena,yes, I'd hope that if bloggers were invited to contribute they'd be treated the same as regualr print contributors i.e. paid. I'm not sure what people's experience of this is actually; does anyone know? It would be awful if newspapers didn't pay bloggers just because bloggers rarely make much of an income from their blogs, so people presume that they are happy to work endlessly for free.

    That's great about compiling lists of book reviews; if any one wants to take on this project... ;)

    Love your Savvy Wit blog, btw.

  15. In principal it sounds like a good idea – if I could get into The Guardian or someplace like that but most reviews I see in newspapers are rather sorry affairs these days. They’re not reviews, they’re notifications: such-and-such has a new book out, it’s about this and that and I’d give it four stars. What good is that? I never write less than 2000 words and I always include excerpts from the book. There is nothing worse than a book review where you don’t get to read a few of the author’s own words. No, I like the freedom I have online. I get a steady stream of ARCs and I treat it as a proper job. The best compliment I was ever paid was when I heard that one of my earliest reviews had been passed around a publisher’s office with the following note: “THIS is how a book review should be done.” To be honest I think it was my second review and I hadn’t a clue what I was doing but I put my heart and soul into it and I guess that made the difference. There is nothing worse than reading a review in a newspaper where it’s obvious that they’ve probably only read the first chapter and maybe flicked though the rest. Canongate have just sent me a 1050-page book to review: that one will separate the men from the boys.

  16. Hi Jim, thanks for stopping by! You're right, newspaper reviews are just like plot summaries with a few extra adjectives thrown in; much lower quality than your average blogger review.

    I love that the conclusion we've generally come to as a group is that we're happy as we are, thanks. :)

    Good luck with that Canongate book! Which one is it?

  17. @Lyndsay Wheble - it's The Instructions by Adam Levin.


Thanks for commenting! Best bit of blogging, by far.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...