Sunday, May 6, 2007

Are Book Reviewers Passe?

Another great article for evening reading, this time from the New York Times.

This article claims that the traditional newspaper book review section is dying a slow death. And it seems to be true, from the evidence they provide. Large national newspapers are decreasing and collapsing their book review sections. The trend could be a shame, since regional reviewers tend to critique regional writers. However, all is not a loss.

According to the article, literary and book reviewing blogs are growing. They claim to "democratize" the book review process, making it accessible to the common reader. The article lists several popular and well-established book reviewing sites, including Book Slut, Emerging Writers Network, and The Syntax of Things.

I am one of those anachronistic bloggers who still like the traditional newspaper book review, albeit delivered to my gmail inbox on Sundays. I feel that there's a bit of a romantic notion to the old-school book review. They tend to be written by experts, people who have studied the art of critique. Certainly, I have romanticized the people involved, as well. What a life, to hold the book industry in the palm of your hand, able to decimate it (or inflate it) in one swoop of your pen.

Yet, I can see the benefits of putting literary criticism on the web, especially since many people feel that they aren't good at critiquing literature. By making criticism accessible to discussion on the web, we are broadening the base of informed literary critics. We are creating a new culture of book love and book awareness, even if we're staring at our laptops instead of getting our fingertips stained with ink.