Saturday, 25 May 2013

Reading and reviewing

Friends who blog usually note 'what they've been reading' this month at month end. Which is a nicer idea than the chaos of a financial month end. I was always put off by reading diaries, ever since the school insisted that I couldn't possibly have read that much in a week. (I could and did). Now, though, I'm buying and borrowing as many books as ever, not that I mention what I couldn't finish, hated or just 'passed the time'.

I love reading through what other readers are reading - a combination of natural curiosity and wonder if I've missed a book I'd love. I find it harder to trust mainstream print reviews as there are too many friends reviewing friends or academics looking for goodwill, but bloggers are happier to critique a free book. Some bloggers do wonderful reviews and I'm pleased to see them and consider. I also find the mixture of vintage and modern offerings that bloggers tend to offer to be far more interesting than the offerings of many broadsheets. I mentioned Waitrose's weekly newsletter a while ago - it's good to see vintage and modern represented in their reviews area together with recipes and ideas for local entertainment each weekend. Books need time and often word-of-mouth to gain a readership and that's what so many books don't receive. Your average high-street bookshop has very limited shelf space and is under tremendous pressure to move stock, so you have to remember to buy what looked interesting now and hope you can balance your finances until payday.

So, rather than use a Goodreads or a LibraryThing model, perhaps publishers could improve their websites and print on demand offerings. Yes, I realise publishers are now huge corporations, but they could show readers their imprints and suggest future novels to read within that imprint. If there are links to sample chapters, then that's even better. I blog, admittedly quietly, to maintain interest in my books and remind people that I'm still here. I can only publish so many each year, so Twitter and the blog have to work to gain attention.

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