Blogging, Book Criticism and the Perpetual Debate

article posted Sep 29, 16:00

There are better than even odds that, if you’re interested in literature (and if you’re reading this, chances are…), you’ve noticed how much of the discussion about books has shifted to the online world.

A great deal of the criticism of books now takes place in blogs, websites, social media sites and so on. Not surprisingly, this has had a noticeable effect on such criticism, both in terms of tone and substance… and equally unsurprisingly, that change has elicited a good deal of comment.

One recent example is this piece from across the pond, prompted by a comment from a Booker Prize pundit. For a short piece, appearing ironically enough on a blog, it raises some of the key issues.

Of course, like many interventions in lively debates, it tends to elide the underlying problems.

Certainly, as the author states, there are good and bad blogs just as there are good and bad print critics, but that doesn’t resolve the whole question. There’s more to think about. Like, how most blogs don’t get a decent edit before they appear (a point he raises and drops very fast), how very few bloggers are held to a code of ethics that addresses things like conflicts of interest, and so on. Or, on the positive side, how many blogs don’t owe anything to advertisers.

Now those are some things I’d like to hear discussed more and at greater length. But in the meantime, enjoy the article .