Book reviewers can’t be objective, according to The New York Times. Really? I have often railed about what I consider ridiculously inaccurate book reviews. Especially when it’s obvious to me by a reviewer’s remark that he or she never read the book either closely or in its entirety.
Here’s an article by The New York Times Book Review editor. A half-dozen or so questions are answered that I found quite interesting (read “amusing”). The final remark that “No book reviewer can be truly objective” made me laugh. How about a review being accurate as it relates to a book’s content, regardless of the provider’s opinion? I would hope this remains at least one criterion. However, in today’s literary climate, who knows?
The New York Times Article also mentions that there are no specific requirements to become a reviewer for the paper. And that many who review books for The New York Times are freelancers. There was a point in history when an avid reader could rely on a bevy of nationally respected newspapers to deliver quality review content. The New York Times led the pack as its bellwether. However, excellent support from other papers such as The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Boston Globe, The Atlanta Journal/Constitution. And a great smaller-market newspaper, The Sacramento Bee.
Other papers existed that also utilized excellent book reviewers. These reviewers consistently disseminated “accurately applied” information. What I mean by this is that at least they read the books they reviewed. This New York Times article, while brief, says a million words about the sadly laughable current state of the book-review medium at the legacy level. In my opinion, in the present climate, a good-size segment of newspaper reviews have no greater credibility (other than to generate a book’s sales) than the purchased Kirkus Reviews–and folks who read my mish-mash know what I think of the integrity of this medium.