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August 01, 2008




If you say "But they're not all that professional", I will sorely disagree with you. Great reviews, thoughtful and interesting. Lots of interesting crime fiction choices.


A similar vein is burst at Huffington -


See you in the bar at Baltimore



It's all Snakes On A Plane.

The only people ever talking about how blogs are doing anything important or spectacular in the world are the people who blog.

David J. Montgomery

I think online reviews CAN, and hopefully will, come to dominate the literary landscape. (Especially considering that soon there won't be many print outlets left.) But I think we all need to raise our game in order for that to occur. And I'm not sure how much that's going to happen until/unless there's some dough involved.

As for blogs... Well, the emperor's new clothes are looking a bit tattered, I'm afraid.


When online reviews replace print reviews, it's over. You need a license to drive a car, you at least need sperm to make a baby, but any moron can put up a blog and start reviewing.

The easy response to that is - if he's no good, no one will pay attention, but that's been proven wrong. Just look at all the morons currently doing online reviews. Most are as bad as Jim Winter's comedy.

Well, maybe not that bad.


All reviews are wonderful as far as the author is concerned, but I think the print reviews are still the most important, and as a rule they are very well written.
I wonder if this is similar to the comparison between e-books and print books? I would think that readers are more likely to look at a newspaper review for advice, though they may get to a blog also while they are spending time online. I seem to have too little time to visit many blogs.

Karen Olson

Print reviews are fewer and fewer. Writers have to look outside the box, and online is where that box is. I did a blog tour last year for my last book, and I sent out ARCs to a few book bloggers who reviewed the book before I guest blogged for them. I know I reached a lot more readers that way than I thought would.


The overwhelming majority of print reviews are directed towards bookstores and libraries (Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus, PW, etc.) and are never seen by the reading public. The print reviews that are directed towards readers (newspapers, a few trade journals) are extremely limited in number and are largely targeted towards the “hot” books and the most popular writers. Online reviews, by contrast, probe much deeper into the well of authors and provide an unquestionable benefit to readers who are looking beyond the top 10 for their entertainment. All three categories are deserving of our thanks and respect.

David J. Montgomery

Given their inclusion on sites like Amazon and BN.com, I imagine that the trade reviews are read much more frequently by consumers these days than they are by booksellers and librarians. But they're so brief that they serve a limited function.

And while it's true that print sources often review popular and/or acclaimed titles -- and really, they wouldn't be providing much of a service if they didn't -- they also cover a wide range of other books. (For example, in her most recent New York Times column, Marilyn Stasio reviewed books by Karin Fossum, James Lee Burke, Will Thomas and Jincy Willett. Of the four, only Burke is well known. I haven't even heard of the last two.)

At any rate, that sidesteps the subject of the discussion: have online reviews reached a high enough level of quality and professionalism that they are ready to supplant print reviews? We're not there yet. But hopefully one day we will be. (And soon we may have no choice.)

Doug Riddle

Interesting topic....but I am writing about another issue....What the hell is with the leukemia comment crap? I know I am probably playing into this idiots hands by commenting, but it is not funny, and pretty disrespectful to anyone who has a family memeber or friend with leukemia.

To everyone else, sorry about the rant.

David J. Montgomery

I'm reluctant to delete comments unless they're abusive or obvious spam -- but I went through and deleted some of the remarks that Doug refers to.


I agree with you about quality of formally published reviews - they are usually better, mainly because they are independently edited.
However, there are some great internet sites around. For example, Euro Crime (eurocrime.co.uk) is a great, free, indexed database of reviews, authors, author websites for all European (including UK) crime fiction. I contribute reviews to the site. The quality of the individual reviews may not be as high as in the magazines/newspapers, but far more books are reviewed, and you can see at a glance each author's titles and click through to the reviews. There are other very good internet sites for this purpose, Euro Crime just happens to be my favourite.
Most newspapers and magazines have awful websites strewed with adverts and are costly or impossible to access after a week or so when the review is archived. If you are interested in reading a book review at any other time than when the review is run in the paper or magazine concerned, internet sites are often better.

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David J. Montgomery is a writer and critic specializing in books and publishing. He is an emeritus columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Beast, and has also written for USA Today, the Washington Post, and other fine publications. A former professor of History, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two daughters.

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