book review blogs

book review blogs

The Influence of Book Review Blogs

1. Introduction

In addressing this question, one area that is particularly relevant is the availability of web-based book reviews. Book reviews continue to be an important vehicle for the dissemination of information and opinion regarding literature with potential to inform practice and policy in health and healthcare. They can provide accessible and affordable insight into literature that is often less technical than that found in journal articles, and by directing readers to books of high import can have a major influence on the course of their learning and intellectual development. In terms of information access, book review content is highly portable and its low bandwidth requirements make it suitable for those accessing the internet from less developed countries or using slow internet connections. Given these many positive attributes, it is clear that book review information can potentially be of high utility to a broad and international audience.

The onset of the 21st century has seen the advent of an exciting new technological development: the internet. As the world’s communication mediums quickly converge, and with the rise of email, instant messaging, and cheap international phone calls, the internet holds great promise as an affordable, high-quality tool for communication across national boundaries. A major question that remains to be answered is to what extent the internet will provide high-quality access to information and analysis regarding developing countries. The answer to this question has important ramifications for the potential impact and use of the internet in reducing disparities in health and healthcare worldwide.

2. Benefits of Book Review Blogs

In order to determine the benefits of book review blogs, it is often essential to understand the purpose and to think about the potential benefits for both reviewers and book readers. One of the key aspects of book reviewing is to help potential book consumers decide if a particular book is right for them. There are many book consumers in existence, many of whom do not have much of an idea of what they would like to read. For these people, book reviews are an ideal way of getting a feel for a particular book and determining if the book is something that they would enjoy. Book review blogs often contain a massive amount of reviews and information, and this can be useful for people who are seeking information on books of a particular genre or on a particular topic. Another target audience of book review blogs is book enthusiasts and collectors. These people are often searching for information on what books are available, and reviews can often provide a good idea of content and quality. Book enthusiasts and collectors often seek out rare, old, or out-of-print books. It can be difficult to find information on these books, and determining their content or quality can be near impossible. In this case, a review of the book can be of great benefit.

3. Tips for Starting a Book Review Blog

It would be useful to remember that a blog dedicated solely to reviews will have difficulty in retaining readership without some manner of personality. An anonymous figure typing critiques into the digital ether is likely to be forgotten or, depending on the intelligence of the critique, mistaken for a particularly articulate spambot. Connecting with an audience is important. I assume. Like I said, speculative. Step one of connecting would probably be the previous point about impressions. I feel that discussion may have been somewhat circular. Oh well. Personality, moving on…

Create satisfactory first impressions. This might be accomplished through appealing web design, a cleverly devised crafting of a persona, or possibly something more underhanded but we won’t encourage that. On second thought no one should listen to me. So long as potential reviewers do not flee in horror at the abysmal state of the site, mission accomplished.

It is now time for the main act of this book. Knowing this is necessary for an author looking to get his book reviewed. So I’m here to help with some tips on how to “fish out” reviewers from their cubby holes buried beneath the bustle of the Internet. Take note, these are mostly speculative as I haven’t the foggiest idea how one would go about setting up a book review blog. That it’s probably not terribly complicated seems a safe assumption to make, however. Non?

4. Building an Engaged Audience

In book review blogs, the manner in which a blogger goes about building an audience can be critical for the blog’s ultimate success. An engaged audience is one that is involved with a blog and its reviews, and this involvement can be the key to increasing book sales based on a blogger’s recommendations. One of the survey participants said the interaction his blog has from its readers is “what puts us above traditional print media and many other websites.” There are quite a few ways that bloggers attempt to stimulate their readers to get involved. Many have found that running contests is a good way to get readers to return to the blog, as well as providing an opportunity for free books. This can be a key incentive for readers without spending any money, and who doesn’t like free books? Another tactic that a few bloggers mentioned involved more direct interaction with readers. One blogger said “I communicate with authors who are interested in having their books reviewed on my site and encourage them to participate in discussions that can come out of a review. Similarly, I engage readers directly if I know they have an interest in a particular title and encourage them to give their own feedback once they have read it.” This author-reader connection can be quite important in stimulating involvement with the blog’s content. At least one blogger has attempted to start a book club, and if participation is high, it could be an excellent way to enhance discussion on specific book titles. Overall, fostering a sense of community is a common goal for bloggers when seeking to improve reader involvement. And given that a community of readers is often what book authors themselves seek to build, the blogger’s audience could eventually become an important vehicle for connecting authors with their readers. By now the reader has certainly noticed the many parallels between book review blogs and the book industry they are a part of. We’ve looked at how book blogs are built from the ground up, their methods for gaining and maintaining an audience—it’s now time to discuss how book review blogs are influencing the book industry and what kind of effects they are having on book consumers.

5. Conclusion

In terms of intrinsic influence, book bloggers see their reviews as offering an individual response to a book and an expression of their reading experience. In many respects, the informality of book blog reviews comes from the fact that bloggers are writing for themselves, not an editor, nor an academic journal. They are the active agents behind their own reading and reviewing practice. The act of reading is constructed as a personal journey into a text; the review then is a way of processing and reflecting on that journey. Many book bloggers have commented that their review is a record of both good and bad points in a book and a way of trying to understand why they did or did not like the book. This reflective process often links to other books or events in the blogger’s life, and the connection between the book and the blogger’s personal journey can be a major feature of the review. Reading and reviewing then is integrated into lifestyle, and bloggers love the fact they are reading but doing so in a way that fits in with their own personal, professional, and family commitments.

Book review blogs have become a highly visible, if not widely used, alternative to the professional journal review as a means of giving readers advice about what to read. Because of the dearth of scholarly research on book reviewing and book reviewers (Miller and Sarlo, 1978; Sinner, 1986; Stratton, 1992; Marks, 1994 are some exceptions), our study aimed to shed some light on this form of reviewing. Although the book bloggers in our sample put considerable time and effort into reading and responding to a wide variety of books, the informality of their reviewing and the lack of clear editorial or critical policy on many book blogs makes determining the influence of review blogs a difficult task.

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