ROLE OF BOOK REVIEWS
“Even when bad, book reviews are good,” said Edmund Brown, publisher and editor for more than 75 years. He was responding to a negative review in the Boston Herald, whose book review editor saw no redeeming feature to a book dealing with a newly-discovered copy of the 1775 edition of the Declaration of Causes. In view of the fact that that book sold but few copies, one would have to conclude that the bad review was indeed bad, except that the author gained visibility, and his name became familiar with some book buyers.
Visibility is the key word. It means familiarity. It also means confidence. Ultimately, it means acceptability on the part of the reader who, by buying a specific book, he or she invests first and foremost in the author and only indirectly in the publisher. Often, book buyers do not consider the name of the publisher; but do consider the name of the author and the content of the book. Good, objective reviews bolster the image and reputation of the author while they increase the profits of the publisher. Bad reviews, on the other hand, reward neither the publisher nor the author.
A good reviewer has to be an honest reviewer, and should refuse to review a book either because it is badly written or because the book’s content is without intellectual or factual merit.
In submitting books for review, one should first locate potential reviewers by categories--those that have expertise related to the content of the book. Next consideration is the publication or publisher; this choice has to be compatible with the content of the book.
Traditional lists of both reviewers and publishers can be found in Google, Writers Market, or Literary Market Place. But the better publications for reviews are daily newspapers, magazines, Sunday supplements like that of the New York Times, and trade publications like Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Book List, and Kirkus. Often forgotten are college and university alumni magazines; these reach captive audiences within a field of familiarity both for the name of the author and the content of the author’s book. Higher education magazine editors are always in search of published authors, their goals to increase the basis of potential donors.
The number of non-traditional online reviewers is getting bigger by the day. As their reviews appear at the point of book sales, they have immediate impact on the book buyer looking at a chosen book and reading either a good review or a bad one. This innovation, spearheaded by Amazon.com, has gained international support to the point that, other book distributors, such as Barnes and Noble, Borders, Follett and others, all publish reviews attached to titles. As a result, these special reviewers are gaining more and more deserved prominence.
Branden Books, with its many authors, has benefited from reviewers such as Michael Woznicki and Glenda Bixler. The latter creates the most consummate reviews found anywhere. Her major strength lies in the fact that with her reviews she enhances the content of the book and clarifies the issues so to help the book buyer make better and more informed purchasing decisions.
Regardless of where reviews appear, however, this better axiom stands: Even when bad, book reviews may be good.
Note from IPBookReviewer: Contrary to what you may be thinking...I did NOT strong-arm Adolfo into giving me a compliment in this article! But I appreciate!