Has anybody else noticed that the world of publishing is going through a technological revolution as major as the invention of the printing press? It’s called ‘print on demand’. In the old days a publisher paid big money to pay editors and proof readers and typesetters and book designers. Then they paid big money to printers and binders who printed big print runs of books which were shipped to the publisher’s warehouses. Then they invested big money in catalogues and publicity campaigns and review copies and promotion and then they shipped the books to wholesalers who sold them to retailers who sold them to the end user.
Print on demand is cheaper and easier. Just upload the files to the publisher. When the customer buys online they print one and send it to him. So. This has changed everything. Suddenly the publishers don’t need the warehouses and the investment in production because it is all done digitally. They don’t need the shipping and storage and distributors. They have also discovered–and here’s where muggins comes in–that bloggers are the best people to review their books.
Consequently, I’ve got books to review coming out my ears. Not just books to review, but nice phone calls and emails from people wanting me to review their books. Now, in the good old days, there were people called journalists who got paid by newspapers and journals of distinction to write book reviews. Because the newspaper paid them the book reviews were objective. The reviewer could say if the book was crap. Now, however, the book reviewer is expected to do this free of charge. What does he get in return? Well, I review books on my blog and make publishers and other authors happy and I’m not likely to say anything bad about anybody’s book. Why? Because my own books are coming out one after the other and I want nice people to say nice things about my books too don’t I?
What good would it do for me to say anything bad about any of the books I write? See what has happened? The whole book review thing has become just a way to get publicity to sell books.
Furthermore, I do the same. I send my books to my blogger friends and want them to post a review or an ad. Geesh. The whole thing is commercialized, and yet we have to do this to get people to buy our books to read them because that’s why we wrote them in the first place.
Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to start a special category on the blog: Books Received– which will be a regular listing of the books I have received for review. A short summary and a notice will be made. Then when I get around to reading and reviewing later I will be able to give them the chance they deserve while still taking notice of them. Then when I get my new website started I’ll have a page to feature them all.