As more and more book reviewing shifts from print to online, what are the obligations of those who talk about books on their blogs?
This is a subject that makes me uneasy. I often recommend books on this blog, but I've never panned one. Unlike panning a movie, panning a book on a blog feels too personal, especially on collective blog sites like this one. And I don't feel qualified to write a "review."
I think it's appropriate to talk about books I like. The more the better. But to talk about ones I don't like....well, I just wouldn't.
This is new ground for us and begs the questions-what qualifies someone to review books? With the decline of newspaper reviewing, it might be a good time to talk about it.
A newspaper gives a reviewer a platform to speak from and presumably is responsible to the public for views expressed in its pages. It has the means to curtail a reviewer who doesn't act professionally. Newspapers edit their reviews, vet their personnel. There is an organization to hold accountable behind the reviews.
I expect to see critical reviews in newspapers or magazines, but on a blog, it often seems inappropriate because there's no oversight. The blogger may not be held accountable in the same way that newspaper reviewers are.
Am I living in the past to see things this way? Maybe this "Brave New World" has passed me by. What degree of professional training should we expect of a reviewer? Or should we democratize it and say everyone is entitled to their say?
Is it possible someday soon that a site with nasty reviews of books will attract attention the way various radio shows and political blogs do? Amazon reviews, not supervised at all, are often nasty and unfair. Or so favorable that you can't believe them either.
Do you see a time when people will be held responsible for the content of their blog? That lawsuits and legislation might alter free speech on the Internet.
These are questions we need to wrestle with. IMHO.