aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,
aprilhenry
aprilhenry

Who will review the reviewers?

A lot of book reviews are written by freelancers who also write books themselves. It makes sense. They love books and know books. But what does that same paper do when they need to review a book written by someone who also receives some kind of pay from them? Do they skip the review? Run a disclaimer? Other?

Such was the case with Chelsea Cain, a weekly contributor to the Oregonian who writes wistful, gentle pieces that connect her past to some goings on about town. Well, now she's come out with a huge debut, a very bloody serial killer book called Heartsick.

The paper ultimately decided to have Chelsea perform both halves of a Q &A. But the Oregonian's managing editor/readership and standards Therese Bottomly says on her editor's blog that in hindsight this was not a good solution. "A straightforward review or news item would have served readers best." (Full disclosure: I think it would have to have been a news item. Portland is a small enough book town that I bet almost anyone they assigned would have know Chelsea a little bit.) Read her blog here, as well as links to the TWO NYT reviews (one pretty good, one not so good, but reader, don't all authors want to experience the heady feeling of having not one, but two reviews in the NYT) . Read the Q&A that started it all here .

Even if the book reviewers don't write themselves, what if the reviewer has become friends with the person whose books they review? My editor has asked me to review books by authors he feels he's too close to.

I think this is a conundrum with no easy answer.



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