UK Books - July 2007
by John Berlyne
Date: 01 July 2007 /
Via the excellent SF Signal (one of my essential RSS feeds) this link to a fascinating essay on book reviewing from a site called Canadian Notes and Queries. It's a lengthy piece written by Alex Good, but it does examine what it is to review and to be reviewed and it furthermore acknowledges the power of Internet review sites and the impact they have made on readers, writers and publishers alike. Though I don't necessarily subscribe or agree with all of Mr Good's commentary, I do think this is a fascinating examination of what book reviewing is and why it is a very necessary exercise.
For myself, I have always kept to a pure and simple brief when reviewing - simply to answer the question of "is it worth the money?". Before I became a reviewer, I was just as voracious a reader as I am today - however, in those days I had only the slimmest of budgets with which to buy new books and if a reviewer I trusted said I should spend my few precious pounds on "Book A" rather than "Book B", I was grateful for being thus guided.
A new hardback book today costs fifteen or twenty quid, and that's a fair chunk of change. Add to that that there may be twenty or thirty new books to choose from each month, it falls to folks like the SFRevu crew to filter the wheat from the chaff and to gently prod the discerning genre reader in a direction where true quality lies. I would hate for you to spend that hard earned cash of yours on some crappy derivative trash!
In many respects UK publishers are making the reviewers job very difficult at the moment, for we're still very much in a golden age over here, where the vast majority of their output is of extremely high quality. July sees some wonderful genre releases, so brace yourselves and get ready to smash open that piggy bank...