Just prior to the release of “The Last Ranch” in May, a very positive review of the book was posted online at “Tonstant Weader Reviews” with a note that a review copy had been provided by my publisher. It got me to thinking about how much the world of book reviewing has changed since my debut novel, “Tularosa” was published in 1996.
Twenty years ago, most newspapers, including my hometown paper the Santa Fe New Mexican, had journalists who served as book editors and who routinely got advanced reading copies of books from publishers asking for review consideration. Because of that a whole lot more authors had their books reviewed and a whole lot more readers were drawn to books they might not have otherwise discovered.
For the writer, if the print reviews were positive — and even better yet plentiful as well — chances for strong sales could skyrocket. It was always a happy occasion when good print reviews came in from Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New York or another major market. That doesn’t happen anymore for most writers.
Nowadays with the growth of the Internet and increasing popularity of reader reviews on websites, book editors at newspapers have become all but extinct and a writer’s chance of having a book featured and reviewed in a major print market is almost nil.
While I can understand how economics can make publishers decide not to run a weekly book page, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Doesn’t their livelihood depend on readers reading? Wouldn’t they want to encourage that by recommending worthwhile books? I know booksellers would love it.
Fortunately the Santa Fe New Mexican continues to review books and I truly appreciate that. But with social media, author websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. now dominating, do newspaper reviews even matter in the digital age?
I think so, but what do you think?