The book critic vs. blogger debate continues to rage. What do I think? I think they serve different functions. I also think that critics and bloggers need to deflate their egos just a little.
Book reviews serve two purposes. One, they provide information for readers about which books to read. Two, they provide timely commentary on books and become secondary source material, which is important if these books ever make it onto the syllabi of future college classes.
Both of these functions are necessary. It seems however, that most book critics strive towards academia. They write to impress each other and the scholars that are and will study the book under review. So where is a normal reader, who doesn’t know anything about Pushkin or Flaubert, to turn?
They turn to blogs, of course. Bloggers picture themselves as being “of the people.” Some are, some aren’t. This blog post, for example, is probably not interesting to your average reader who doesn’t care why book critics and bloggers can’t get along. This reader just wants to figure out what book to read next.
Let me admit something to you all and unveil my inner “average reader” beneath my blogger disguise. Before I started working in book publishing, my primary method of identifying cool new books was to show up at my local Barnes & Noble and check out whatever books were on the front tables. I’ve had interns tell me this is what they do, too.
A normal person looking for a book to read doesn’t read the book critics or the blogs. Perhaps if our ambitions were a little less lofty than, say, being crowned in glory as the smartest book critic of all time or the blogger with the most insider connections of all time, we might reach a larger audience.
*Today’s post was inspired by my conversation with a wise media mogul.