The Future of Reviews

Kirkus is closing.

This might mean little to non-publishing types, but to writers, agents, and publishers, this is shocking news.  For years, Kirkus has been a major book reviewer–simultaneously building unbounded joy for those it touched with its starry wand, and destroying others with its criticism.   The reception of this news in the publishing community has garnered mixed reviews–some are lamenting it, some are giggling and mwah-ha-ha-ing it, but all find it notable and wonder, what’s next?

I’m curious about how this change will resound with readers.  How many people outside of the publishing industry go searching for what Kirkus or Publisher’s Weekly have to say before buying books?  Online booksellers, like Amazon, conveniently excerpt book reviews under the books they sell, but do those reviews actually motivate people to buy or not buy books?

All of the studies conducted about how people buy fiction boil down to word-of-mouth sales.  It’s how I buy books from author’s I haven’t previously read.  Formerly, I relied on the recommendations of friends, family, and book clubs.  Now, in addition to those, I get recommendations from Twitter and book blogs.  I do read reviews on Amazon, but it’s usually after I’ve made my selection.  I read the 5 starred reviews, the terrible reviews, and I usually buy in spite of both.  I’ve never stopped purchase on a book because of a poor review.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on book reviews and how you buy books.  Do you read reviews to decide which books to buy?  Do you buy books based on Goodreads, Library Thing, or Shelfari ratings?  Do you look to Kirkus, or Publisher’s Weekly, or reviews in periodicals?

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2 thoughts on “The Future of Reviews

  1. A. Jarrell says:

    I, too, will purchase books based on the reviews of my family and friends — people who know me personally and know my tastes. I’ll read book reviews from others I am unfamiliar with or that were not referred to me just to get an idea of what the book is about. The opinion of the reviewer is just that: an opinion.

  2. Bookjourney says:

    Honestly, most of my book knowledge comes from reading other book reviewers as in book bloggers.

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