The first part of this article reviews a lot of the contentious arguments between book critics and bloggers that we've all heard before, but then moves on to some interesting points.
excerpts from Battle of the book reviews:
"Many believe there's a healthy synergy between the two (critics and bloggers). Maud Newton, who runs one of the more respected literary blogs (maudnewton.com), was puzzled by the idea that the two are somehow competing. "When bloggers disagree with or agree with an article about books in the mainstream press, it drives traffic to the newspaper," she said. The cutbacks at newspaper book reviews are unfortunate, but hardly the fault of bloggers."
"And although many newspaper reviews are shrinking, Dennis Loy Johnson — an independent publisher who started Moby Lives, one of the pioneering literary blogs — believes they continue to offer more solid content than most online efforts. "It's a dirty word in 2007, but blogs have not raised the level of intellectual discussion," he said. "Book blogging is for the most part book gossip and fresh commentary, or opinion. It's vital, but it's not true literary criticism."
I love reading reviews from other bloggers, but I certainly don't like the fact that newspapers are cutting their book editors and reviewers. The above quote is often true, most bloggers (certainly not all) are interested in book gossip (Who is reading what and does it sound good?), fresh commentary (Gosh, I read the book and didn't notice that --symbol, character, incident, allusion, etc.-- and it makes sense.), and opinion (Liked it. Hated it). This information is fun and informative and has expanded my reading horizons and pleasure. I don't believe it is anything to be ashamed of.
Yet I still want access to a professional critic's opinion, and newspapers are doing us all a great disservice by eliminating book coverage. There are some excellent sites on line for book information, including some excellent criticism, but newspaper coverage IS broader.