Newspaper Book Review Pages

Acknowledging Erica

Something different

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
In choosing a book to read at my local library, about 75% of my selections are requested titles that I found from book reviews. I consult sites such as Amazon, Goodreads and AbeBooks (both of which are owned by Amazon) or look at online newspaper websites for recently published books.

At the end of every week, the Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express books pages review the latest titles. The Daily Mirror, which proclaims itself to be The Intelligent Tabloid doesn't have a book review page...make of that what you will. I also look at the Washington Post, New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Paris Review and The Atlantic.

I thought it was my imagination at first, but some book pages appeared to be expanding. This felt like a denial of scare stories about a decline in numbers of people reading books. Then, I came across this article that shows newspapers and journals are promoting books by reviewing more of them:

What’s behind a recent rise in books coverage?

It's a healthy trend that books are being treated in the same way as other art forms, such as films, television and music, for previously coverage has sometimes been rather elitist. Of course, there are still issues to address, such as who actually does the reviewing, for there's currently a preponderance of middle-aged white male critics reviewing books written by male authors.

Also, why aren't e-books ever reviewed by mainstream media? This has always mystified me, for we all use computers to communicate and get information, and millions of readers consume digital versions of books. Ignoring e-books feels like a hangover from ten years ago, when traditional publishers closed their ranks against digital publishing in the hope that it would go away!

I like the notion that heavyweight newspapers are leading a fightback against ignorance and declining books sales, by drawing attention to books as worthy of a look from people whose attention spans are declining.

Perhaps this development will prompt television companies to produce more programmes on books and authors, for they're few and far between on British channels.

Do you choose what to read from reviews?

Would you read a book even if the review said that it stinks?

Which newspaper or website book review pages do you look at?

I have a couple of times recently bought a book on the strength of a great review in the D Tel or the Guardian, only to be puzzled and/or bitterly disappointed. It should be remembered that both papers, whose books coverage used to be interesting and different, now have thriving bookselling businesses...
I can't remember when I last saw a stunningly bad review.
I trust neither blurb nor 'professional' reviews. I do listen to reviews by 'normal' readers, but add heavy pinches of salt. The fact is that I'm usually disappointed by authors new to me. But if I find an author I like, I tend to buy everything they've written.
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Acknowledging Erica

Something different