The Daily Mail's consultant literary editor Jane Mays has predicted that reviewing digital-only e-books in the newspaper will become "more customary". However she said it was still "very difficult to open up to the world of self-publishing."
The newspaper's literary page recently carried reviews of Brian Appleyard’s Bedford Park (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) and Paul Barker’s A Crooked Smile, self-published via eBookpartnership, both of which are only available in digital editions.
Mays described the move, a first for the publication, as "dipping a toe" into reviewing e-books. She said: “In this case, we did it because they were established writers so there was a good case that their books should be reviewed. If the books are printed in multiple formats, we would still go for the print one, but it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we get.”
She added: “If more established writers publish only in digital forms we will have to look at what we choose to review. I am quite certain that as things unfold, it will become more customary. But it is still very difficult to open up to the world of self-publishing because we would be so inundated, and we only have one page a week.”
Paul Barker, a former editor of New Society magazine, said: “I was in touch with many literary pages about reviewing my work, but many said they had debated the idea of reviewing e-books, but were worried about how many they would have to cope with. It used to be the case that literary editors looked down on paperbacks and would only review hardbacks, and books would have tiny hardback runs just to ensure they got a review. Now e-books are being treated like paperbacks were then. It makes sense that it should change.”
Self-published author Dan Holloway said the Daily Mail's move was a "welcome step", although he added that he was concerned when newspapers looked to cover self-published authors within an existing platform as "the wonderful thing about self-publishing is that it offers something different from mainstream publishing, it offers readers new horizons."
He added: "I understand the fear of being swamped. On the other hand, as I have pointed out in the Guardian and numerous other times, I really don't think that is a good reason to avoid self-published titles, when there are so many places a reviewer could start looking in order to search out excellence."