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Reader Blogs Are Going to Ruin the World

The existence of amazon reviews and reader review blogs, like this one, are being touted as the downfall of literary taste. Seeing as how I never aspired to having literary taste but read for entertainment and review for entertainment, I suppose I must agree. The Smart Bitches and Sybil have links for those who are offering instructions on how not to ruin the world of literature.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Meljean
    Nov 30, 2006 @ 16:10:37

    The funny thing, my knee-jerk reaction is that I kind of agree with Sutherland — the type of review he’s describing, particularly by the husband, is the kind of review at Amazon that drives me crazy. Friends, relatives, people with an ax to grind are equally dishonest and unhelpful — and I’m always reading reviews with suspicion, wondering if the glowing one is just a reader who loves a book and doesn’t articulate why … or the author’s mother.

    But that suspicion is exactly why his argument, in the end, doesn’t make sense. Anyone reading at the level he’s demanding, and with such a critical eye, isn’t going to be swayed by a vague review (like the first one he described.) So what’s the problem, really? If a person online is blindly reading reviews and taking them at face value, it’s probable that person reads everything that way. And if that’s the case, they’re probably going to enjoy the book.

    The review doesn’t make that person’s taste any more or less literary — that person’s taste and critical skills were developed long before they did (or did not) buy that book based on a review (or despite of one.)

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  2. Charity
    Nov 30, 2006 @ 20:28:11

    Hey, I’m one of those unpaid hacks. I get no freebies, save for the ones we give away, but I enjoy it none-the-less. I don’t review on Amazon. I don’t even buy from Amazon, but still.

    Now, the lady that is reviewing 20 books a day. Give me a break. The chick aint reading all those books and anyone that thinks she is – is clearly high. JMO, of course, but since I review on-line, I clearly like giving it. I cannot believe I am partly responsible for the downfall of literary taste. I had no idea being an unpaid hack would put me in such a position of power. I Love it!

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  3. Emily
    Nov 30, 2006 @ 21:25:45

    What is more patronising, saying reader feedback is worthless, or suggesting people can’t use that feedback critically in making their judgements.

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  4. Angelle Trieste
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 04:50:34

    I thought he was totally right to criticize Harriet Klausner. Does she ever NOT like something?

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  5. Robin
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 12:46:01

    The online Wall Street Journal interviewed Klauser, so I am pretty sure she really does exist. She explains her “reviewing” process here:

  6. Robin
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 12:47:23

    oops, for some reason the link on Klausner’s interview didn’t work (I’m obviously doing it wrong): http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110006483

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  7. Jane
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 12:51:17

    The best way to use the “link” button is to type out your message and then highlight the word that serves as the “anchor” and then click link. Otherwise, you need to click link, enter the link, type the anchor word, and then hit the “link” button again. Clear as mud, eh?

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  8. Robin
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 12:55:34

    I’m just trying this to see if I understand: here

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  9. Robin
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 12:56:06

    Yippeeeeeee! Thanks, Jane!

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  10. Bev (BB)
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 17:05:59

    I hate it when people confuse commentary with review. Both ways.

    Thunk, thunk, thunk.

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  11. LinM
    Dec 01, 2006 @ 21:20:25

    Yikes, I bought the ebook that Sutherland is writing about. I guess I’m one of the great unwashed but this article fails compared to most of the review blogs I visit daily.

    Sutherland:

    1. quotes a bad review posted on Amazon. (may be gold; may be dross).

    2. quotes a glowing review by the author’s husband. (either the husband needs an Internet education or he hates his wife.)

    3. half-heartedly defends the book. (no examples – no proof – maybe his editor deleted the good stuff.)

    4. comments on Amazon “reviews/reveiwers”. I agree with him about the value of the Amazon comments but I wish that some-one would do a serious study on the influence of these comments on readers that actually buy books.

    5. equates Amazon reviews with all online blogs. (oh, help)

    This guy is fluff. I’d rather read reviews/commentary from the ja(y)nes or smart bitches any day.

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