Friday, August 31, 2012
I am a REAL book reviewer!
There has recently been a huge hubbub in the book world over a recent article in the New York Times, entitled “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy.”
Apparently some dude made a small fortune selling positive reviews of self-published Amazon titles for outrageous prices, and paid a pittance to a bevy of reviewers, some of who admitted that they never even cracked open the book they were supposed to be reviewing.
This has lead to a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, to say that he estimates that fully one-third of all online reviews are fake – and it’s nearly impossible to tell the fake from the real.
Now, this controversy has raged on for nearly a week now, and I have been mulling over whether to stick my nose into the whole business or stay out of it. Well, it's hard to tell a Texas gal to keep her mouth shut, so here goes ...
I have been a book reviewer for over 16 years. I started out small, doing a review or two for my hometown paper, the Wichita Falls Times Record News (I actually have the same position that acclaimed author Larry McMurtry once held!) and over the years, I've expanded my reviewing to include other publications, including the Las Vegas Review Journal's book blog (www.lvrj.com/booknook) as well as the acclaimed book review website Fresh Fiction (www.freshfiction.com), where I am a senior reviewer and columnist. And I'm proud to say that I've reviewed what probably adds up to five or six thousand books over the years.
AND I HAVE ACTUALLY READ EVERY ONE OF THEM!
Yes, I like to read, I have since I was a child - my mom and dad and I used to curl up in our favorite chairs at night and have our noses stuck in our favorite books, and it was fun!
And I read a lot - I have always been a rather fast reader and can read a book or two a day. And yes, I retain what I read.
And yes, when I review a book, I usually give it a positive or good review - because I came up with a philosophy many years ago, when I had been reviewing for a while -
IF I DON'T LIKE IT, I DON'T REVIEW IT!
Thankfully, there are so many great books out there, and so many genres that I like to read, or can at least be convinced to try (for instance, my friend Pam Jaffee convinced me that I just might like a series of Robin Hobb books about dragons and she was right, I LOVE them!), that there is no end to the type of books that appeal to me. Now, I draw the line at horror - just don't like being scared!
Another part of being a book reviewer is that you do it for the love of reading and sharing that love of reading and good books with others. Most book reviewers aren't paid for what they do - they receive a copy of the book to review, either from publicists or publishers, and that's it. There are a select few who are paid, the big-timers for major publications, but for the most part, or at least in my case, I do it for the love of reading.
So, I guess what I am trying to impart in this little rant of mine is simply this -
If you read a review of mine on this blog, or in a newspaper, or on a website - you can be assured that :
1. I have read the book!
2. I was not paid to read the book!
3. I liked the book! (Why would I recommend something I didn't like?)
I am proud to say that I Am A Real Book Reviewer! And, with that off my chest ...