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While the erudite have derided the best-selling books as poorly written and unimaginative, fans of the soft porn/romance novels don't care about sentence structure, believable dialogue or character development. Not everybody wants a daily dose of Dickens or the latest Robert Caro book on LBJ.
"This stuff we consider 'bad' is considered bad if we look at it in terms of the criteria set for old-fashioned art," says pop culture expert Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. "We also have to recognize that some of this stuff that is 'bad' is really good at being 'bad.' Therefore the word 'bad' kind of ceases to have any kind of meaning."
I think of the reviewer’s role now as being more about providing context for a book, tracing its lineage in the tradition and locating it in the literary topography of the present, and all that touchy-feely sort of thing. The critics I love these days do something slightly different from what they used to: they don’t just judge, they open up that weird, intense, private dyad that forms between book and reader and let other people inside. They tell the story, the meta-story, of what happened when they opened the book and began to read the story.
Could the Internet Save Book Reviews?
The digital age has transformed the physical act of reading and will alter journalistic literary criticism as well. According to a Pew Research study published in 2010, over half of all Americans obtain news and information—including book reviews—on digital platforms: online editions of newspapers like the New York Times, email, Twitter, RSS feeds, etc. (The number is even higher among people with post-graduate degrees and those who are in their 20s and 30s.) The full effect of these changes will have on book reviews isn't clear, but they're already shifting in ways that would both please and alarm Orwell.
Review of "The Lonely Book" by Kate Bernheimer, illus. by Chris Sheban; Schwartz & Wade (Random House).
This particular book has spent a lot of time at the library, but it still has a lot to look forward to. Fresh off the presses, a beautiful green book is sent to a busy library, quickly devoured by adoring young readers. The book is happy to be checked out often and loved by so many children. Time goes by, and newer books take its place. Gradually, it gathers dust and is taken out less and less often. Then, one day, when it thought it has been abandoned, a little girl named Alice discovers it where it has been left carelessly on the floor. It’s love at first sight for the little girl, and she takes the book everywhere. Once again, the book is happy and content.
But when Alice, in a moment of forgetfulness, neglects to renew the lonely book, it is again relegated to a dusty shelf. Stay tuned for more...
Author faces six figure legal bill after unfavourable Amazon reviews case is struck out
An author who tried to sue a father of three from the West Midlands over comments made in a series of unfavourable reviews on Amazon is facing a six figure legal bill after a judge struck out his case.
The judge ruled that although a small portion of Mr Jones’ words might be deemed libellous by a jury if it went to a full trial, there was little point pursuing that avenue because the potential damages would be slight compared to court costs and time.
Article in the NYT Sunday Book Review: Why Won’t They Listen?
Book discussed in the article: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Birdbooker Report 214Compiled by an ardent bibliophile, this weekly report includes books about human evolution, wildflowers, polar bears and much more that have been newly published in North America and the UK
NYT "Room for Debate" piece -- ‘Riveting!’: The Quandary of the Book Blurb
“A Faulkner for our time!” “Can’t put it down!” “An up-all-night thriller!” At some point, you have to wonder: if so many books are being commended, are they all commendable? It’s the perennial question of whether the blurbs on book covers are still meaningful or have become just background noise. After all, Kindle Singles are doing just fine without covers — and cover blurbs.
Do book blurbs serve readers? Do they help writers?
Stephen King and others weigh in on this topic.
Book by author Robert Levine - FREE RIDE: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back
Review by Jeffrey Rosen in the NYT
Excerpt: “The real conflict online,” Levine writes, “is between the media companies that fund much of the entertainment we read, see and hear and the technology firms that want to distribute their content — legally or otherwise.” By delivering content they don’t pay for, or selling content far below the price it cost to create, Levine says, information and entertainment distributors like YouTube and The Huffington Post become “parasites” on the media companies that invest substantially in journalists, musicians and actors; the distributors drive down prices in a way that sucks the economic lifeblood out of those who create and finance the best achievements of our culture. The result is a “digital version of Wal-Mart capitalism,” in which free-riding distributors reap all the economic benefits of the Internet by cutting prices, and culture suppliers are forced to cut costs in response. This dynamic, Levine argues, destroys the economic incentive to create the kinds of movies, television, music and journalism consumers demand, and for which they are, in fact, quite willing to pay.