Posted by: Sarah | February 10, 2006

Publishers Need Bloggers. Hurrah!

According to an article by Damian Horner in this week’s Bookseller, book reviews in the press are becoming devalued. Almost every book nowadays has a gushing quote from a review (sometimes misleadingly cobbled together). Readers are getting wise to this, and can use the Internet to contrast and compare reviews in the media. Often now they prefer to pick books recommended by word of mouth, book groups or the Richard and Judy phenomenon. John Murray is planning its big September launch of Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night by canvassing ordinary readers.

The article ends:

I suspect we will soon see publishers working much more closely with bloggers and reading groups. They will run ongoing focus group panels and maybe some will even follow the Miramax model and ruthlessly target awards and prizes. Exciting times are ahead for those switched on enough to recognise that a whole new “recommendation model” is needed. Let the fun and games begin.

Yes, please. Me, me, me (and, I imagine, you, you, you, too!). Bring ’em on!

On the other hand, I hope this doesn’t mean the end of reviews. I do so enjoy reading them, and occasionally writing them.

Incidentally, as I still seem to be on John Murray’s database from my reviews editor days at the Historical Novels Review, I was sent a bound copy of Part One of The Meaning of Night recently. It was quite the page-turner, an atmospheric Victorian-style chiller. Naturally, the cover blurb gushingly compared it to Dickens and Wilkie Collins, but it reminded me more of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White.

What’s with all these Victorian pastiches, anyway? Kept: A Victorian Mystery by D J Taylor was published last week, and of course there are all those wildly-popular saucy Victorian lesbo-romps by Sarah Waters.


  1. Interesting article, thanks for the link. I’m more likely to rely on recommendations in newsgroups or online reviews, like yours of Manda Scott, than on press reviews. (Except the Guardian Digested Read, which is always good.) Two or three thoughtful reviews that say ‘This book is about…. I liked this because…. I didn’t like this because….’ give me a much clearer idea of the book than a newspaper review. If I don’t know of the author already, I usually borrow the book from the library before deciding if I want to buy it.
    Is Victorian in fashion again? For some reason it’s not an era that comes top of my interests, so I haven’t read much. There were excerpts of ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’ in the Guardian a while ago, and it seemed a bit too self-consciously clever for me.

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