How Corrupt are Other Book Reviewers? | Michael Orthofer | CWT Shorts

How Corrupt are Other Book Reviewers? | Michael Orthofer | CWT Shorts


Tyler:  Other reviews, and here I mean media,
not bloggers, how corrupt are they? Michael: Corrupt in what sense? Tyler:  That there’s something in the process
which involves favoritism, and maybe there’s an incentive for excess enthusiasm. If your book review section reviews 13 books
and says they’re all mediocre, people won’t buy the books, but more importantly, they’ll
stop buying your book review section. Right? Michael:   Yes. Tyler:  Do you think there’s, for instance,
an incentive to be too positive or some other skew? Michael:   I don’t know that it’s as blatant
as that. I definitely think editors certainly prefer
positive reviews. There’s some newspapers which basically won’t
print negative reviews. I think that’s always an issue. They can say, “Well, we pre‑select. That’s the way we do it.” One of the things I love about how I’m able
to review books is that I’ll review almost anything. I will actually review it even if I do not
enjoy the book, even if I have immense problems with the book, because I think that’s just… Tyler: Don’t put them down like I do. Take New York Times or Amazon, I know there’s
both. If you had to choose, which do you trust more? Michael:  I don’t know if I can…I like
Amazon because I can get a lot of information out of Amazon, the way the information is
presented and, in part, with the reviews, depending on how widely it’s been reviewed. Part of the problem with The New York Times,
of course, is that they can only review so few books. You have really so little information or information
about so few titles. Whereas Amazon, you have at least some information
about practically everything. In that sense, Goodreads is, perhaps, even
more useful, especially with the foreign language books. There will usually at least be people who
have already reviewed the foreign language addition. That’s helpful. One of the things I find remarkable about
my site is I try to link to big media reviews, and an extraordinary number of the books which
I cover basically go unreviewed in the major media, often even in “Publisher’s Weekly,”
which I find kind of shocking. I do review obscure books, but it’s not that
obscure. I’m fascinated the Literary Hub is a very
good website now, which collects a lot of literary information. They’ve also now started a review aggregating
part of the site called Book Marks. Basically what they do is when they find reviews
in three of the publications they monitor, which are basically all American major publications
and a few Internet sites, if they have three reviews for a book, then they’ll put that
on Book Marks with summaries and links to the reviews, so, sort of what I do. I find maybe 1 out of 10 of the books I cover
qualify for that. I find that shocking.

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