outlive book review

outlive book review

The Importance of Book Reviews in Ensuring Longevity

1. The Power of Book Reviews

Book reviews are capable of igniting curiosity and desire, bringing awareness to the aspects of a book that stick out the most. Reviews can make a book seem more enticing simply by integrating detail and analysis. They are particularly good at swaying undecided consumers and at bringing the focus of consumers in a certain demographic to a particular book. The more complex the book, the more important the review. Different people have different intentions of reading a book – some read for entertainment, others read for education. A great review will reveal what the reader can expect, catering to the right audience. A consumer may be skeptical about a book, feeling that it wouldn’t suit their preferences or that it would be too complex. A great review can address such concerns, ultimately leading to a conversion from potential consumer to actual consumer. A good example would be a college student considering to read an education-related book during their spare time. The student might be reluctant to read it, expecting it to be much too dry and complex. But wait, he stumbles upon a review that convinces him that the book is quite interesting and easy to understand, it would make the material more clear. He’s much more likely to purchase that book, given the impact and his intentions of reading. The best-case scenario occurs when a consumer, after reading a good review, adds the book to a mental list of books they intend to read. If the review really stuck out and the book was particularly compelling, this consumer will later find someone to tell about the book. Thus we have the snowball effect, reviews continue to be passed on and more consumers become interested.

2. How Book Reviews Influence Longevity

When we talk about the influence of reviews, we are speaking of both how long a review keeps people deciding a purchase and what the reviewer can do to impact the sales of a book. Recent surveys show that the time spent reading a review by a potential book buyer is on the decline. However, nearly two-thirds of those who purchased books relied solely on the reviews themselves. About 10% of readers buy books immediately upon reading a positive review. When reviews began to blur into bookseller-provided promotional comments is uncertain, but the influence of impersonal “reader to reader” style reviews on sales is clear. On Amazon.com, readers can attribute the success or failure of books to the wealth of customer feedback and reviews, which are a major impulse for purchasing books. Marketing researchers have shown that with the rise of the Internet, consumers are shifting away from focusing on advertising efforts and more to the opinions of those in similar situations. High retailers understand this and pursue book reviewing experts who will bulwark the success of their product. An article in the New York Times recently discussed the struggle of smaller publishing companies losing the potential of great book sales to books being under-reviewed. This led to an aggressive stance of sending review copies to publishing publications in the hope of obtaining further exposure. A book’s success may be due to an influential book reviewer, such as Stephen Ambrose, who, though a historian, was such a good reviewer that his endorsements alone sold books. While the endorsement of a prominent figure may raise interest for a period, it is still a review that will lead one to read in the long term. High school English teachers often find it hard to keep their students reading, but in a study by the ALAN Review it’s been suggested that by finding a good book matched with quality reviews to discuss, students can have an enjoyable reading experience and develop reading/writing skills. Generally, a book’s lifespan and the strength of a review sell are correlational.

3. Strategies for Writing Effective Book Reviews

More often than not, identifying with the reader is easier said than done. By understanding their needs, knowledge, and beliefs, students can more effectively select which elements of a book to consider when writing the review, as well as how to present these ideas in a way the reader can interpret. If the review is targeted at a general audience, it may be useful to provide some background information on the author or book as a lead-in to the review. If the review is intended to be read by the way of a literary academic, it may be more beneficial to assume the reader has knowledge of the book being reviewed, allowing the review to take a more analytical approach.

Reviews are often difficult for students writing about issues, characters, and themes to condense arguments and ideas from a longer piece. This will require focus and selection in deciding which elements hold the most importance. It is often useful for a student to create some form of an outline, which can help identify areas of importance as well as organize the arguments for and against a particular issue. Using this outline to then guide the direction of the review.

4. The Role of Book Reviews in Reader Engagement

These days, the options for readers are more complex, and there’s a greater need for discriminating book choices. Books are not only in print, but are also in digital and audio formats. E-books have the potential to be very cheap, or even free. With the ease of self-publishing, some book markets are saturated with books that are low quality. A reading group might want to pick a book to read, but there are so many books, and too many choices. How does one decide what to read? Step into the book review, with the same basic idea of helping a reader make a decision. Today, written reviews are not only found in newspapers and magazines, but on blogs and websites, and in written, audio, and video form. With the ease of internet-linked devices such as smartphones and tablets, these reviews are easy to discover and access on the go. A review might describe a book in detail, but can also be more simple and concise, like a summary with an opinion. A reader might find a review by looking for it specifically, or find it accidentally while trolling for information on a book. Good reviews might be shared or recommended to others. It’s still possible to sample a book for free, but the review is a more accessible and time-saving way to learn about a book without investing in it first. If a reader already has a book in mind, there are websites like goodreads.com where a reader can look up a book and read multiple reviews all in one place. Because the internet has an international reach, a reader can now find reviews of foreign books that were previously not an option due to lack of translation and availability.

Before the explosion of the internet, the most common way to get information on a book was to read a review of the book in a newspaper or magazine. A book review often described the plot of the book, why a reviewer thought it was good, and how it compared to other books in a similar genre. The idea was to help a reader make a decision, and because book purchases were often pretty expensive, a reader might need to be quite discriminating about what to buy. If the review sounded good, the reader might invite the book further by reading a sample in the bookstore. Book purchases were sometimes influenced by book clubs and reading groups, especially if the book was selected by one of the groups to read and review at a later meeting.

As the internet and user-generated media have evolved, readers have more options for finding books that they are interested in. More books are being published than ever before. There were over 800,000 books that hit the market last year. How do you find one that’s well written, and that’s worth your time and money?

5. Conclusion: Embrace the Impact of Book Reviews

It is clear that for a novel to survive the test of time, it needs to be more than just a story. It must have a lasting impact on the readers and society. This is achieved when it is passed from one generation to another, not through the memorization of the tale, but through the tale reaching a new audience and invoking the same thoughts within them. Landon Jones, the author of the book “Great Expectations: The Soul of the Book,” told me that the novels which stand the test of time, in the nineteenth century or today, have a common attribute: “books that are still around have changed the way people think about reality, and that is reality quite broadly defined”; as in the reality of life, human nature, or society. When asked about the long-term impacts of recent novels, Anthony Abraham, the executive editor of Roth Books, said “most books have a two-week lifespan, tops, and then they’re gone. But reviews bring it back to the public’s attention. And reviews stay with a book. If you get a couple of good reviews, your book will be in print longer than it deserves to be. And some books achieve longevity just because they never stop getting reviewed.” The modern-day society is much too volatile to promise that great literature will not become lost in the shuffle of new age media. However, if a book is consistently published and reviewed, it is far more likely to reach future generations and contribute to a change in reality. Longevity is survival, and reviews are the key to survival for a novel.

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