Monday, November 22, 2010

Is A Book Review Like A Tomato?

Hi everyone! Tori and I are happy to be back on the island for the first time in ages and we are enjoying the sun, surf and of course da menz. I got to thinking on the flight over about something I read on another blog site a while back concerning the shelf life of books. Basically the writer asserted that there is a short window of opportunity to review a book prior and following it's publication before a review loses relevancy. In other words, folks who follow reviews in the blogging / cyber world would not be interested if it is not posted within a short window of time on either side of the publication date of the book.

So my question is, are book reviews like tomatoes in that if the review isn't completed and posted within that window period it rots on the shelf? Now, I'm speaking metaphorically of course because we all know, reviews don't "rot" but you get my drift.

The thing is book bloggers I know pretty much have a TBR the size of Mount Everest and it is next to impossible to read all the books you would like to at date of publication. In the case of ARC's in IMHO if reviews are posted too early then folks have forgotten about the book by the time it is published. That is why I really try to read and post ARC reviews not more then 2 weeks ahead of the publication date. But that is just me. Then again sometimes the pub date comes and goes and I just haven't been able to fit the book in. A person can only read, assimilate and review so many books.

An author whom I respect very much once told me it's never too late to post a review of a book for a number of reasons. Even if the book has been out for a while sometimes it reminds others that it is a good read, particularly if it is the first book in a series. Second, if a reader has not read a book by said author before the review may peak their interest to try one of writer's works. Lastly, if you really enjoyed the story and can emulate that enjoyment through the review it may encourage another person to give the book a try.

What are your thoughts with respect to these issues? Are reviews like tomatoes, do you think they lose relevance related to the publication date? If you review books on a blog or other venue such as Goodreads, Amazon etc. does the date of publication affect your decision as to whether to take time out of a crazy, busy schedule and rush to read the book and write your thoughts? If you are a reader and follow book reviews to help make a decision about spending hard earned dollars on a novel does the timing of the review make a difference?

I've got a nice cold strawberry margarita next to me, thanks to one of my menz, a book in my hand, and Tori in the crook of my arm. Life is always great on the Island. ;) I'll be back tomorrow talking about one of my favorite subjects-festive treats. Yes..Food. :-)

Thanks everyone, and have a great day!


Jenre said...

I'd heard that idea too, that there's a shelf life for reviews.

If that's the case then there's going to be a few disgruntled authors out there because my read/review pile, especially for Wave's site, is currently at about 4 weeks from receiving the book to reviewing it. I even occasionally pick up books which have been on the list for a few weeks so sometimes it can be up to 2 months after publication before I review.

My feelings are that a book review is always valid, regardless of how far after publication it comes. I reviewed a book a couple of weeks ago and several commenters said that they hadn't realised the book (which was a sequel) was out and they immediately went to buy the book because I had drawn it to their attention. Or, as you said, sometimes a reader would never have bought the book on release anyway and yet something about my review made then decide to go ahead and buy it.

I think that for authors who are trying to publicise their new releases, it must be frustrating if there are no (good) reviews to point towards, but I expect it makes little difference for readers either way.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Lea! Great post topic!

I actually prefer to read new book reviews a month or two AFTER the book has been published, because I think *some* ARC reviewers give only good reviews of books they receive as ARC's. Some people refuse to list what they didn't like about a book, instead focusing only on the good parts. That's OK, but I prefer to hear the good with the bad in reviews.

Personally, I believe I get a more rounded honest review after a book has been out for a while and numerous people have read it.

Also, when everyone's got the same ARC to review, I don't usually read all the reviews. I just don't want to read 23 reviews of the SAME BOOK inside of 2 weeks.

I have a short attention span and get bored very easily. Also, I don't want to read a review of a book that I am going to read within a few weeks. I don't want any biased in my head before I read the book. So I stay clear of reviews about books I am currently reading or plan to start soon.

Usually, I read reviews of new books then add them to my list of books to purchase in the future- months later so that nobodys review is fresh in my head.

After I've read and reviewed the book myself, THEN I go back and read other peoples reviews to compare how we all viewed the book.

So to answer your question, I don't think book reviews are like tomatoes, I prefer them aged like a fine wine!



Blodeuedd said...

Not at all, I mean if I only saw new books then I would miss out on so many old books. And I do try to read new books, but oh well, sometimes I need to go back, like those books that have been sitting on my shelf for 10 years ;)

ARCs, hm, two weeks the earliest before it's out. i usually post close or a few weeks after

Katie Reus said...

I definitely don't think there's a shelf life for reviews. I'm sure it's possible that having a lot of reviews around release day will help garner buzz for a book but I think reviews any time are a great thing. As a writer (and only in my experience) reviews have never affected my sales one way or another that I can tell so when I get a review on a book a year or so out from it's publish date, it's usually a nice surprise :)

Lori said...

I've read so many fantastic older books because I saw a review at a favored blogger's site. I think it's hogwash (or at least I hope it is).

The only time I make it a point to do a review right around publication date is if I've been generously given an ARC. Otherwise, I read and review what I feel like reading and reviewing when I feel like it.

Erotic Horizon said...

I did read this once as well Lea and I immediately though clearly I was not the reader this article was meant for..

I LOVE my backlist ALOT...

I rarely read pre-released reviews, because if on the off chance I want to buy the book I hate waiting....

Influx of reviews can really turn me off a book as well - too much of a good thing or bad thing as the case may be..

I agree with your author friend - a review can ever be too old, I am still really some of yours, Jens and Lily really old stuff, Why because I am just reading those book Now.. years later...

To be perfectly honest, reviews rarely plays apart in how I spend my dollars...

Cool for thought..

P.S. Tickle Tori tummy for me...


Chris said...

I saw this post made ReadReactReview's Monday Stepback already. :)

I don't agree about review shelf life. I'm always finding older books to read from what my trusted reviewing friends (blogs & GRs) are reading as they plow through their own monstrous TBR piles and files.

Rosario said...

It makes sense that the person who said there's a short window of opportunity to publish a review was a writer. I suppose from her (I'm assuming "her") point of view, that's when reviews would have most impact on sales and best-seller lists and so on. If you're posting about a book that's not in print any more, even if readers decide to buy it, they'd end up buying it used. Or, at least, they would have before ebooks.

From my own reader's perspective, it's always a good time to post a review. I quite like seeing reviews of older books in the blogs I follow, and often post them myself.

Mary G said...

Never too late. Found some nice treasures this way. The good thing: you're not waiitng for a new book release, you can buy right away.

LesleyW said...

I think for authors there probably is a case to be made for a review write by date. With so much emphasis on bestseller lists. I think it probably is important.

However, for a reader I don't think it is. I think for a reader whether you discover a brilliant book at the time of release or a few months or years later, you've still found a brilliant book.

And as someone else with an Everestian size TBR pile. It's becoming far more likely that it will be months after the release date before I get to read it.

I've picked up books that had been out for a while on the basis of reviews I've just read. So I think for the reader it's much less important.

So for authors = fresh tomato. For readers = canned tomato.

Unknown said...

Hi Lea!

I don't think it's ever too late to review a book, books aren't like tomatoes... no matter how long they're left in the sun, they're never too ripe for a new read. I agree with the statement that your author friend made, no matter how long you've been writing, it's always nice to attract to new readers, if no bothers reading books that have been out for a while, even a few years, you could be depriving yourself of an excellent read. I don't know how many times I picked up a first in the series or even a middle of the series book, and then had to devour the author's backlist. As long as you're enjoying your read, it's never too late to pick up the book.


Dottie :)

Patti (@TheLoveJunkee) said...

I like finding reviews of books that have been out a while (I have a review coming up Monday on a book published in 2008!); I came so late to the romance game that I have a lot of catching up to do and need those kinds of recommendations!

Tam said...

I agree with your respected author. If you say the review is only good within weeks, you are saying that all book buyers only buy fresh books, that no one ever buys from a backlist or purchases a book after a month. If that's true, why do publishers even keep books on their site? Just take it down after 30 days since no one will buy it.

I would think authors would appreciate a review a bit later (even years later) because it's going to be fresh for people new to the genre or even seasoned readers (no one has read every book in their chosen favourite genre that was published in the last 10 years) and it may be one of those "Oh yeah, I remember when that come out but I didn't get it for some reason. I'll run and get that now."

I enjoy reading reviews of "older" books (which could mean six months in the fickle world of publishing) because I know I've likely missed some gems along the way and I use other reviewers to seek those out for me. While the new and shiny is appealing, those books are new and shiny to me.

I hope if you ask an author "Would you rather I read this now - a year later or not review it at all?" most smart ones would go with review it please.

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