Missed opportunity

It is a truth universally acknowledged that readers are starting to turn away from the literary pages of our newspapers to online resources for their book recommendations.

Not all readers, by any means, and the literary sections are still a massive part of the culture of books, but the migration is happening in much the same way that readers are moving from print books to e-books. It is pointless pretending otherwise.

Given this, and the fact that newspapers themselves are repositioning themselves online, I am surprised that very few bloggers have been asked to review books for print newspapers. Actually, that's a lie, I am not surprised at all, but I do think it is a shame, and a missed opportunity.

Newspaper print circulation is on the decline as readers access more online content. So why not take some of the people who create that online content and print their words in the newspapers?

And before anyone trots out the tired old argument that newspaper reviewers are somehow more qualified and professional than the amateur blogger I suggest they check out some of the wonderful book blogs that are out there at the moment. Try Googling John Self's Asylum, Dovegreyreader, Farm Lane Books, David Hebblethwaite, Savidge Reads or Inside Books for an array of interesting, arresting, entertaining and relevant reviews. You can find a list of more on the FutureBook site.

One of the attractions of book bloggers is the element of familiarity and that leads to a better quality of recommendation. When journalist X reviews book Y in newspaper Z they are often unknown to the reader and however thoughtful, entertaining or well-written the review the reader doesn't actually know if their taste aligns with their own.

With bloggers everything is a lot more transparent. The reviewing history is right there on screen. You can see what they thought of Room or Beatrice & Virgil while reading their review of A Visit from the Goon Squad. You may also, whether you want to or not, find out their views on television, film or music releases which, I would argue, only helps to add context.

I'd love to see one of the newspapers give over its book pages to bloggers for the day. I guarantee they'll see increased sales and more web traffic as a result. That won't happen, of course, and I am not suggesting that the established print reviewers should be evicted from their positions, but it would be great to see a few bloggers being asked to review in print occasionally. John Self's recent review of The Loft by Marlen Haushofer in the Guardian was very welcome and proof that bloggers can hold their own alongside the more established print reviewers. More of the same, please.