You all know my interest in book reviews, so of course I attended the BEA Panel, Book Reviews 2010.
The room was full to over-flowing; and the only seat I could get was in the back, so sadly wasn't able to be close enough to always see who was answering what question. Overall, I thought they had a good mix of people talking.
Interesting points made about the differences between reviews and recommendations; the need for a reviewer to have knowledge and context for a review; and the risks of corruption from/influence of publishers, editors, agents. For a different perspective, here is a report from Cleveland.com.
EDITED TO ADD: Melissa Wiley & Gail Gauthier are having an amazing discussion in the comments about what reviews. After the 48 Hour Book Challenge, I'm going to do a post about reviews, recommendations, good, bad, worst. And I'm bumping this up after the 48HBC so that others can join in.
Here are my notes if you are interested:
* the importance of word of mouth; and also of advance buzz
* what is a review? a good review? a bad review? pointing out the difference between a book review and a book recommendation. what is and isn't a review
* GoodReads was described as a "book discovery channel for readers" * what is "authority" and how that has changed, from a gated community to one that is constantly changing
* people are creating themselves as a brand
* it's not your tweet that gives you authority, it's what you are linking to or retweeting, twitter is
a tool, not an endpoint
* very important: how well does the reviewer know the body of work so that it is an informed review? what is the context, i.e., does the reviewer have the knowledge to put the work in a broader context?
* again, book reviews versus book recommendations with a note that both are needed
* people are still looking for information about books
* there is a whole spectrum of reviews
* reviewers are about what another person will think about the book ("I love this book because..." versus "You will love this book because...")
* for book reviews, newness is everything, so online is valuable because it's not about "new", it's writing about "older" books (i.e., nine months, eighteen months old)
* how do you get readers to different sites? different readers have different needs, and it is difficult navigating user created content
* there is still value in starred reviews
* Amazon reviews are "corrupted by the publishing companies"
* difference between assigned books and acquired books, with assigned books you have no choice
* book reviews are a profession
* danger of corporate influence in book reviews (from publishers, editors, authors)
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy