I just posted about Scrotumgate at Pop Goes the Library, and I'll repeat it here:
If you read only one post about Scrotumgate, read Thoughts on the Great Scrotum Kerfuffle of 2007 by pixie stix kids pix. Please check out my full post over at Pop.
What I'll add over here. Pixie stix kids pix (which, by the way, is a typing tongue twister) says "An established kid_lit blogger can be given the same weight as a print reviewer with 25 years experience—in some cases more weight, because an electronic review is so immediate."
While I'm preaching to the choir here, what do you think about that?
I think print reviews (rather than reviewers) still carry more weight; but part of the reason I think that is that in terms of libraries and collection development, I see libraries as still relying on print reviews. I wonder if some collection development policies even allow for blog reviews to be used. And I know that many selectors don't read blogs. But pixie stix kids pix (only three typos that time) raises a point that we have kicked around in the blogosphere now and then: what are our responsibilities as book review bloggers?
"An established kid_lit blogger can be given the same weight as a print reviewer with 25 years experience—in some cases more weight, because an electronic review is so immediate."
My first question is: weight for whom? As a book publicist, I'm reluctant to ask that a positive blurb from a blogger be included on the cover of a book unless I can say without a doubt that that blog has SIGNIFICANT traffic.
I think blogs have weight in the blogosphere. I read lots of books I see recommended here and on similar blogs and that's because I've read enough of the blogmaster's material to know they have taste. So THAT might weigh more to me than a one line review from Kirkus or PW.
But I don't think the average reader is going to buy/read a book because they skimmed a back cover filled with blurbs from blogs. I think immediacy in blogging is both its grace and its downfall.
It's the same reason why book reviews are so hard to come by in the first place--POD has glutted the marketplace. Blogs have made it too easy for any yokel to post an opinion (which may or may not be as valid as one you'd find in a "respected" print source.
I'm going to shut up now.
I think that Brian makes some good points. But I think that there is another audience for blog book reviews, besides other bloggers. I know that some parents have a hard time finding the right books for their kids, given the huge number of books in the bookstores. I've observed that some of today's tech-savvy parents, who may or may not be bloggers themselves, are finding blogs that they rely on, and using them for book recommendations. And I think that there have to be librarians out there who are getting some of their input from blogs - they are certainly reading and writing blogs.
Thanks for raising an interesting and important topic.
My school district specifies the selection tools that are "acceptable" for collection development.
I know there are librarians reading my blog though and when I highlight a title that interests them they check out SLJ or Horn Book etc. if they need review support.
I have heard from parents and even former students who are in college now, commenting on the books I am talking about.
Authors are finding it harder and harder to get the word out about their books as newspapers cut back. Blogs are filling some of that void, I think.
This is still a new area but just as blogs have gained a certain acceptance in political discourse, literature blogs may too and a blurb from A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy may well be on some future dust jacket.
Thanks for your insightful comments. In the context of the whole Scrotumgate controversy, and the weight on-line reviewers are starting to gain, in my analysis I was really talking about the broader context of information dissemination, beyond local acquisitions.
I agree that in most libraries, print review still reigns supreme, but in publishing marketing departments, and for the general public who are seeking information on the web, a good on-line review can really broaden the base for a particular book.
More to the point, there are just many more streams of information feeding into a book's success besides one or two or six print reviews. And I think this will just keep on being the case. (Think My Space, things like John Green's Brotherhood 2.0, and the press coverage a book controversy will get you, to name a few...)
I know many authors who bemoan those reader reviews on Amazon, because it is so easy for someone to tear apart a book with no recourse. I also know a few kid_lit experts who go out of their way to post to those reviews because consumers do use them to make decisions.
And yes, there are definitely some front-runners in the blog-o-sphere that are becoming trusted sources of information in the cultural machine. You may not see their blurb on the front of a new book jacket, but you better believe that the press and other cultural literati are looking for early cues from sources like these.
It's a much more porous world than it used to be, which will make situations like we've seen these past two weeks all too common.
Again, thanks for the thoughtful discussion. It's one of the reasons I love reading blogs.
pixie stix kids pix
It also boils down to (for me) the blogger's credentials. Not that I would dismiss the blog of someone with no training in children's lit or librarianship or etc., but I read heavily those blogs of people who have studied children's lit or literature, literary criticism, writing, librarianship, etc. It might turn out that I think they have awful taste, and so be it. But this hasn't happen yet with some of my favorite blogs.
Good points from everyone. Thought-provoking discussion.
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