She reckons that reviews on blogs:
... particularly those of the Blogspot variety -- tend to be self-indulgentand offers these guidelines for those who would try to make their blogged book reviews much more useful :
Book reviewing bloggers need to move away from opinion in favor of judgment. How does the book compare to -- and fit in with -- the author's previous work? What's the book's place in the genre? The canon? Does the writer succeed in doing what he or she set out to do -- meaning, is it the book they meant it to be? Whether it's the book the blogger wanted it to be is of much less importance to me, frankly.I posted my thoughts on the issue here, and am unapologetic that most of my reviews here are very personal reactions to books and include a fair bit of banal back-story.
I'd also advise that book reviewing bloggers jettison the use of personal pronouns (yes, I've used a slew of them here; you can nail me in the comments). And for goodness sake, I wish they'd stop telling me what their father and their girlfriend -- or their father's girlfriend -- thought of the book. Also, I don't need to know how they came to possess the book -- how they borrowed it from the library, or bought it at B&N, or snagged a galley at The Strand, or got the publisher to send them a copy even though they average four hits a day. The banal back-story is of little interest.
The book, however, is. And, for that reason, a little plot summary to help me navigate, and a brief introduction to the book's main characters can go a very long way. It's book reviewing 101--not rocket science, I'll grant you--but it's important not to let the informality of the venue serve as an excuse for forgetting the basics.
I find it takes a lot of time and effort (many hours, many drafts) to write a review that really does justice to a book, and I generally save that energy for the "dead-tree" publications I write for. (Posting those more polished reviews here in turn.)
But there is a lot in what Warren says and I am sure the little worm of guilt will be gnawing at me when I put up posts in future!
Within minutes of this post being up(!) Satima Flavell of speculative fiction site The Spectusphere dropped by to post a link to guidelines she had written for potential reviewers for the site. Useful advice for reviewing newbies, and a very nice site for those interested in the genre.
Among those who have responded to Warren's piece is Edmund Champion who sees the shift to blog reviewing in a much more positive light. But things would be better still if litbloggers could be assured an income stream from advertisers! (This is my lament too.)
There's also a sensible riposte from at The Literary Saloon :
Of course, there are a lot of very amateurish review-blogs and sites -- but there are also a lot that are very good. In certain areas Internet coverage has long superseded newspaper coverage: review-coverage of genre books (mystery, science fiction, romance) is far superior in range and, for the most part, quality than what can be found in newspapers. And, sadly, we don't think we're tooting our own horn too loudly when we claim that, as far as coverage of fiction in translation goes, you're better served by us -- little more than a two-bit, one-man operation -- than if you rely on The New York Times Book Review (even with the daily book section tossed in for good measure).(Pic stolen from The Bookseller)