The Corner

Re: Internet Killed The Traditional Book Reviewer

Kathryn: The book reviews on Amazon should be taken with a large helping of

salt. The temptation to post a flattering review of your friend’s, son’s,

wife’s or lover’s book is irresistible. Conversely with the temptation to

trash a book by someone you dislike for personal reasons. (Though Amazon is

in the business of selling books, so they are not going to let the

proportion of negative reviews rise too high.)

The sensible approach to evaluating the Amazon reviews is: (1) Ignore the

most flattering review — that’s the author’s mother. (2) Ignore the most

hostile review — that’s the last employee he fired. (3) Take an average of

the rest.

For the real skinny on book reviewing from a seasoned veteran, you should

read my “Straggler” column in the forthcoming NRODT.

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