Recommended by Strangers

By Staff
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While the Internet’s democratization of literary reviewing in some ways has managed to surmount, or at least skirt, the strict hierarchy and political machinations of the publishing industry, it can go both ways. When book reviews (such as Amazon’s customer reviews) rest in the hands of the common blogger, we trade the transparency of a known reviewer, with all her predictable biases, for an unknown agent. As points out in his article for Slate, the motives of online reviewers can be even more self-serving than those of their mainstream counterparts.

Amateur reviewers are subject “to the same pressures that confront the professionals they were supposed to replace,” Hallberg writes. “To keep writing, lest another reviewer usurp one’s spot. To say something nice, in hopes that someone will say something nice about you. And to read for work, rather than for pleasure.”

Morgan Winters

Image bycindiann, licensed under Creative Commons.

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