Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Salon: The Timing of Book Reviews


I think it's about time to get into the Sunday Salon habit again. Don't you? This week brought us the exciting announcement of the Booker Prize longlist. I started reading right away, and in less than a week's time, I've read three of the thirteen novels. I already wrote about In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut. I'm thrilled to share my thoughts about Emma Donoghue's Room Tuesday (preview: I do believe it is my Favorite. Book. Ever.) I'll share my thoughts on Lisa Moore's February later this week as well. So far, I'm really enjoying my Booker dozen reading, and I'm even ahead of schedule. If I can keep up this pace, I'm confident I'll complete the longlist by September 7th. Most importantly, I should have time to knock out Alan Warner's The Sopranos as well, as it's a precursor to The Stars in the Bright Sky. I'll be starting Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America this morning.
In a Strange RoomRoom: A NovelFebruaryParrot and Olivier in America
As a blogger who is rather enamored with two British literary prizes (the Booker and the Orange), I tend to not spend too much time thinking about the U.S publication date when timing the posting of my reviews. This year, two of the Orange Prize shortlisted novels are not available (yet) in the United States, yet I happily reviewed them here before the winner was announced. Ten of the Booker longlist novels are available in the U.S. (or will be shortly), but that leaves three that aren't. I'll read and review those too. The worldwide web is a global marketplace, and I've increasingly become a global reader. Many of my favorite blogs are written by readers in England, Australia and Canada. I value the dialogue we all have about books.

There are many U.S.-based bloggers who refuse to write about books until their U.S. publication dates. While I pay attention to publication dates, they don't dictate when I publish reviews. There are people who read this blog from many countries, and it's safe to assume most current books I review will be unavailable to some readers of this blog. Yes, it's frustrating, and I feel the same frustration while reading my favorite foreign book blogs when I realize it will take begging the interlibrary loan office or spending too much money to buy and ship a book internationally to be able to read everything they discuss.

Beyond the issues of differing publication dates across the globe, as a reader I like to read early reviews. Despite my deep love for my Kindle, I still read a fair number of books from the library. I like to get on the library waiting lists as early as possible, and when I read a review that compels me to place a library hold before the book is published, I get to read it sooner rather than later. I also love to pre-order books for my Kindle. Publishers have been known to raise the price after publication, so pre-orders help save me money.

Let's be honest. As people who care enough about the state of publishing and literature, we all love to be in the know. I've found a handful of bloggers whose taste aligns with mine most of the time, and I consistently read books based on their reviews. I used to rely on Publisher's Weekly and The New York Times, but I realize how personal fiction reading is. I enjoy book blogging because I can share how books affect me on a personal level as well as a general level, and I turn to other bloggers for the personal connection too. 5-star reviews from my favorite bloggers make my day. If you love it, I want to know about it, and I want to get it on my radar as quickly as possible. Isn't it fun to be ahead of the curve when it comes to current literature?

In this day and age, only the most popular books (Harry Potter and Mockingjay come to mind) mandate simultaneous worldwide release. I won't pretend to understand the legal and publicity dynamics of international publishing, but as a reader tuned into literature written in English published around the world, the timing of book reviews matters less and less to me. I choose to review books shortly after I read them. I'm not good at keeping my thoughts to myself. One of my favorite things about book blogging is the discussion with fellow readers and bloggers, and I'm happy to get the conversation started as soon as possible.

Do you have a preference for the timing of reviews? Do you prefer them only on or after the book's publication date?


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8 comments:

  1. I used to not really pay attention to publication dates, but I find if an ARC isn't published in English anywhere yet, it doesn't spark much interest for blog readers. I'd rather talk about books that I know others can get into a conversation about, if that makes sense. If, however, I'm reviewing a book that's out in the UK but not the US or vice versa I don't really hold back, I just review it when I read it.

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  2. I used to not pay attention to release dates but recently I've had some ARCs that I received quite far in advance. For these, I read them right away and wrote my reviews for the program I received them from. I then scheduled the post to go up on my blog at the beginning of the month when the book would be released. So I got a really early review out there on one site and the review on my site will still be early but closer to the publication date.

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  3. I find that I am caring less and less about release dates. A book will fare better with me if I read and review it when I am interested in it. A lt of times if I hold off on reading and reviewing a boo until its release date, too many other boos are vying for my attention at the same time and I might not even get to it at all.

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  4. Congratulations on reading so many Bookers - I said you'd catch up with me!! I have my Room review scheduled for Tuesday too :-) It isn't my favourite book ever, but it is my book of the year so far!! I'm so pleased that you loved it :-)

    I never publish a review before the UK publication date, but don't look into global dates - they are so different in each country that we can't please everyone. As you say - it is a global market place and I am happy to buy a few books from overseas occasionally.

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  5. I try to pay attention to release dates and read/review certain ones just before or around release day, but sadly, many do not get reviewed until months after.

    You are doing a great job with the Bookers; congrats.

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  6. I agree with you that we have access to books globally now and my taste aligns with yours. I read books from both here and the UK and there publication dates are different. Personally I would rather just know about them and that they are a blogger I trust likes them or not before I can buy it and then I'll get it when it becomes available. I'll put it on my wishlist regardless. As for my own reviews - I post as soon as I can but I rarely post ahead of publishing dates unless they are in the UK only. Great topic!

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  7. I agree with you that we have access to books globally now and my taste aligns with yours. I read books from both here and the UK and there publication dates are different. Personally I would rather just know about them and that they are a blogger I trust likes them or not before I can buy it and then I'll get it when it becomes available. I'll put it on my wishlist regardless. As for my own reviews - I post as soon as I can but I rarely post ahead of publishing dates unless they are in the UK only. Great topic!

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  8. Good for you that you've already read three from the Booker long list. I always mean to read off the list but never seem to get to it.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!