I am now “officially” up-to-date on the publishing world, having been inundated with the “latest and greatest” at BEA. I am also officially bogged down with a countless number of hot-off-the-press galleys and autographed books (no complaints here). I went light on the sessions today, attending only one in entirety: “The Next Decade in Book Culture: A Conversation Sponsored by the National Book Critics Circle.” It was interesting, from my perspective as a newbie, simply to hear editors’ opinions about the current state of reviewing, especially the pros and cons on online reviewing, one of which is the prevalence of “unprofessional” blog reviewers (like myself I suppose), although they never defined the term “professional.” (I’m assuming this definition includes being hired and paid to write reviews by a major outlet in the literary world). However, that was only one panelist’s opinion. Another stated that the comments that follow online reviews are “the great equalizer” –meaning that other commentators are free to defend or refute the original review, making the entire review process a form of democratic exchange.
Another important point brought up was as there has been an “explosion” of online reviews, one would expect a similar explosion in book sales…and that hasn’t turned out to be the case. The reason, it was surmised, is because segments of reader interest are so granulated, so specific, that the “mass market” isn’t affected.
The topic of e-galleys versus paper copies of course came up, and all I can say is I agree with the panelist who argued that reading is an intimate experience, and it’s difficult to feel intimate with an ipad or a kindle…as much as we may love the technology itself.
At the top of my reading list for the next few months are The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton and Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw, both reviews for the HNS (and due soon!), and then the four delicious HF discoveries from this week: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay, Juliet by Anne Fortier, West of Here by Jonathan Evison, and A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer. I will be reviewing them all here, but it may take me a while yet.
For anyone considering attending BEA, I would wholeheartedly recommend “YES!” Being steeped in all-things-books-related is not to be missed. Where else can you see people patiently reading while standing in lines, hauling around totes of tomes heavier than their own body weight, and sitting on the edges of a convention center with their noses stuck in books?
Heaven right here.