Friday, September 3, 2021

Are Book Reviews In Decline?


Authors know they need to get positive book reviews to help sell books. Over the years, the book review quest for authors has changed. There are fewer traditional book review publications, and the surviving ones hold less power than they used to. Reviews these days are not so much revered for who says something, but rather the emphasis is on quantity. Book reviews by the pound are lusted for.

35 reviews on amazon are seen as valuable by the author, as if they are an indication their book has merit. Third-party validation used to come because of the weight of the reviewer and the publication, and though there’s still value in who writes a review, it’s clear that the YELP approach is in the lead.

Good Reads, Amazon, and many other review sites now cloud the minds of potential readers. Even reviews that are bought by an author or publisher are getting traction. The book review world is easily manipulated. Authors get family and friends to buy the book and post flattering reviews. Publications pay for reviews and get those they are friendly with in the media to review a book.

The book reviews at major publications show favoritism to publishers that support them with advertising and editorial access. Let’s face it, the process at worst is corrupted by money and relationships, and at best, it’s not a level one. There’s a  bias against self-published books. There are litmus tests such as getting an advance review copy to a reviewer many months prior to publication date -- or it goes into the garbage. There’s also preferential treatment by reviewers for authors whose social media posts or lifestyles align with theirs.

Book reviewing is a burdensome field. Every single day, 4,000 new books are published. At least 1,000 of them are from traditional publishers. Most newspapers and magazines won’t review, over the course of a year, what gets released in a day. What process is used to filter all of these submissions?

A trained, an unbought, and unbiased book reviewer is a prize. He or she is overwhelmed by the challenge to read books as fast as they are released and to have the time and ability to issue an honest, fair, and interesting review. 

The gold standard for book reviews turns 125 this year. On October 10, 1896, The New York Times launched its Sunday Book Review Supplement. The Sunday Book Review these days is a little thinner than it used to be, but it still is the most desired book review publication. I still enjoy reading the book review section, almost as much as reading the books that were reviewed. These reviews are meaty and give you enough evidence to determine whether a book is for you. At least there’s one place book purists and traditionalists can still look to for an honest assessment of a book.

I give the NYTBR five stars!


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Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in helping thousands of authors in all genres.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: 

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