What a stupid question, I hear you all saying at the sight of this title. And I agree, it is a stupid question. That’s the whole point of this post to talk about what a stupid statement it really is and the relevance and importance of book reviews. A good year or so ago now, I saw a comment on Facebook I won’t forget and it took everything in me not to start a complete ruckus with this stupid person. The comment, left on another Facebook friends status was, “I don’t see the point of book reviews, they’re irrelevant“. I don’t see the point of book reviews. They are irrelevant. And the person who said this? An author.

What is the Point of Book Reviews

I shit you not, it was an author who made that comment. If it wasn’t going to be bad enough anyway, the fact an author, who’s whole writing career basically survives on book reviews, has such a shallow and quite frankly, absurd opinion is well, beyond me really. This author was a self-published author, who’s career I had loosely been following from afar. I say following, that’s not really the way to put it more like, having shoved down my throat. So maybe the fact she (or he, oops) was self-published made them wary of the reviews they were getting, maybe they thought they weren’t genuine or something, I don’t know but that doesn’t excuse the point I’m trying to make.

Book reviews are not just important, they are vital.

I’m not an author. I doubt I ever will be but I have been reviewing books since I started this blog (in fact, you can find all of them here if you fancy!) and my entire business revolves around promoting authors and getting good reviews for them in order to promote further. I see, every day, the impact and importance of book reviews. It is a naïve notion to think they don’t matter. I myself have bought multiple books from reading a fellow blogger’s review of it. In fact, I think I’m more likely to purchase a book based on a blogger’s review of it than if it was on the top spot at Tesco. Bloggers and reviews go hand in hand. Not just books, but everything. If you don’t care about the reviews, then the people writing the reviews won’t care about you.

There are so many authors around now from all these fantastic publishers (and self-published ones, I’m not dismissing them as I have read some absolutely incredible self-published books) all of whom are competing against each other. Not directly, as I’m sure they mostly get on and support each other but in terms of sales and popularity, it’s always going to be a race to the top. And what is the one thing that can influence that? Book reviews. Good, honest and fair book reviews. Whether that review be a 5 star or a 1 star, it’s still a review. It still matters and it still shapes the outcome in a small way of how a book is going to be perceived by the public. An individual book review may not change the world or your writing career but it is an important part of the much more grander puzzle.

One tiny little book review can lead to another blogger buying the book and leaving a review. Who then recommends the book to their mum. Who then reads it and recommends it to a work colleague. You see where I’m going with this?

Butterfly effect.

So whether you’re a newbie book blogger or a more experienced book blogger, a professional book reviewer or you just leave a quick review on Amazon every so often, your reviews matter. They shape the literary world, one word at a time.

What are your thoughts and opinions on book reviews? Are you an author and if so, how important do you find them?

110 Comments

  1. You’re right – this is a great post! I also am more likely to buy a book if I see an eye catching review about it from someone I trust.

  2. As an author reviews are such a great way of advertising. Especially when you don’t have a lot of money because they are often free. It can get tedious emailing reviewer after reviewer to request a review but it’s so worth it!

  3. As a new book blogger and aspiring author almost every novel I read is recommended to me from a book blogger. This is how I find authors and stories I love. This is very important.

  4. This was very inspirational. I started my blog yesterday to do exactly what you wrote about. I want to review books because if they are good, I want other people to know about it, and I want the author to be rewarded for writing a good book! If you could, I would really appreciate some feedback from you on my first review, if you take a while to read this I might have my second review up too.
    Awesome tweet, I really enjoyed it.

  5. Hi Jenny, if you will check our site, me and my partner also do book reviews. When I read your article I am completely infuriated with the author who made such careless comment. Book reviews, in a lot of way creates a community among readers. It bridges gaps and breaks language barriers. It is a complement on the author if hie or her book got reviewed. I read for pleasure all the time but when I am doing a book review I make sure that I comprehend every little detail on the novel. I even do some research as well. I spend time doing reviews. All I can say is that author is some dumbass bastard who do not think before speaking.

  6. I am not an author, but I do like to write short stories and reviews on books. I think book reviews help us see if we really want to read the book or not. Why go out and buy a book and then realize you don’t like it? Some people push through it and read it all, but I don’t usually. Book reviews can help get better in sight on the book, especially if the main idea(usually on the back or front of the book) isn’t clear.

    1. Maybe the person in question didn’t want reviews because they knew they would get bad ones along the way somewhere and that would affect some people’s buying habits?! Who knows.

  7. Shoh! This was quite inspirational. I’m new to all this and I was starting to wonder if my small book reviews had a point because I have so few followers currently. But this made me want to write so many more! Thanks <3

  8. My dream goal is to be an author. I’ve written short stories and novellas and last summer completed the first draft of my novel (now onto the second draft) and fully intend to submit it and get published, no matter how long it takes. However, without critiques and reviews of my work along the way, I know that would be near impossible as I would never improve and constantly be stuck in my own subjective view of my work. Its so important to get that outsiders perspective and feedback – if you truly care about improving that is. I also do book reviews on my booktube channel and now am starting to do them in written form on my new blog The Vista Review. Book reviews are important for me to do because I critique not only the content, characters and plot, but also the writing quality, and since books are a product that you pay for (since writing is a business after all, but many people don’t seem to understand that), you deserve to enjoy what you’ve spent your money on just like any other product you buy, and if you didn’t enjoy it and want to review it then there’s nothing wrong with that. So yes, as a reader and especially as a writer, book reviews are extremely important and relevant! Great article 🙂

  9. Reviews are an essential part of our economy, be it by word of mouth or widely publishized, I wouldn’t buy a new car unless I read a great many reviews. In summary, the individual you speak of was probably on a fishing expedition to create interest from others. Remember, negative publicity is in itself a review.

    1. I honestly don’t know what the person I was referring to was referring to herself but I can remember chatting with bloggers about how un-interested they were after hearing her comments. Bloggers talk, authors have to remember that.

  10. This was a great article I am blogger that is just now getting into book reviewing.But before I started doing book reviews I have always read the book’s reviews because it helps me to decide if I want to read the book are not.

  11. I have always valued book reviews as a reader, especially when I have relied on that reviewer in the past. An unknown – to me – reviewer, may or may not appreciate the same things I enjoy. Now that I’ve published a book, I very much want reviews. Not only can they help get the word out about my book, they help me improve my writing for future books.

  12. I love doing and reading book reviews, it’s so important to have them around. Maybe established authors don’t need them as they know they can get sales either way, but there are so many staring authors that need the reviews for people to see and choose to read their books. Also it’s nice to read a review before purchasing a book, and it’s so awesome to meet people who love or hate the same book as you.

  13. Book Review: Ready Player One
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is by far one of the most interesting books that I have ever read. It kept me on my toes throughout the whole story. It’s based on a time in the future where a new internet has been invented. The oasis is a virtual reality internet where you can do everything-shop, go to school, work, and much more.

    The story first begins with a teenage boy (Wade Watts) living in his aunts trailer. In the future, there isn’t much space so the trailers are stacked on top of each other.

    The creater of the oasis dies and leaves his multimillionaire fortune behind to anyone who can find his egg hidden somewhere in the oasis. To get the egg, you have to find three keys and get through the three gates.

    Nobody could figure out how to capture the first key and guess who is lucky enough to find the first key? That’s right. Wade Watts. With other competitors close behind.

    The creater of the oasis did not make it easy for them. He was obsessed with the 1980s so all of the keys had something to do with the 80s. This book is definitely on my top 50 best books.

  14. Great post! I adore book reviews. Like you, I have often been inspired to read books after reading their reviews. Similarly, I also enjoy seeing other writers having the same reactions to books I’ve read. There’s nothing better than meeting people who adore the same books as you! Plus, book reviews are so important for authors because I mean, you write books for people to read. Why wouldn’t you want to hear what the readers think about them? That’s the way you can improve (and or sell more books)! Like where’s the logic in disliking reviews as an author?

  15. I completely agree with everything you said. I adore reading book reviews especially now when I’m trying to make sure I get a balance of reading for pleasure and being busy doing adult things. They’re a very key part of the literary world just as you said and it kind of bothers me that that kind of comment came from an author. An author who doesn’t understand the importance of book reviews is just something I can’t wrap my head around.

    Great post
    xx
    Sarah
    https://peachiiikeen.wordpress.com/

  16. Love your article but I think sales are more satisfying than reviews in a way. I have had no reviews so far I think people forget to do them. When you read the first 20 pages then pay $4.95 for a book from an unknown writer that says a lot.

  17. This is a great post not only because of the excellent points on why book reviews are important but also because it reminds book reviewers of one important reason why we should keep doing what we are doing and encourages us to keep putting our thoughts into posts and sharing them with others. 🙂

  18. I believe when you review a book you share your feelings with other books and it will be always different no matter whether that book has received gazillions accolades.. it can help defiantly debut writers as well as to readers, I am part of goodreads and I check reviews before picking up next book, as we have less time and abundance literary. So reviews makes sure I pick right book matching my taste. I cannot imagine readers without reviewers…

  19. Saying book reviews are irrelevant is juvenile, and a bit insecure. I can totally see where the writer is coming from, because at times reviewers may not appreciate the cultural diversity a writer can bring to their book and the reviewer feels the book is off, simply because they didn’t understand it.
    Yet at the same time, the writer also has to understand that reviews are important for their book and them to survive. The simple fact being, reviews are one of the few discerning factors readers have at their disposal to not spend their hard earned money on a not so good book.
    All writers I feel need to have a balance between making their writings as beautiful as possible while at the same time respecting that all people may not enjoy it and may have other preferences.

  20. I started my casual book review blog about a year and a half ago and I went through phases with my style and interest. It’s hard to write a blog about a book without giving too much of the story away. I don’t want my readers to know so much about the book that they then don’t read it themselves, my aim is certainly to make them think “Oh hello!” to a story that they might not have thought they had an interest in before. Writing the review blog has certainly made me try new types of books, just to expand the type of reviews I do for others! I think reviews are very important, for those reading them and those writing them. My blog is There’s Always Time For A Book and you can find it at bexwhittaker.wordpress.com 🙂

  21. It’s so surprising an author would say that! I definitely agree with you that book reviews are important, I’m way more likely to trust what someone says on a blog or what a friend/family member says in person than to trust the book sitting in the prime position in the shelves at the bookstore.

  22. 100% agree and it’s also important to criticize and deconstruct literary work… that author is so clueless tbh. what is the point in literature if you can’t share your thoughts and analysis.

  23. Book reviews are super important. To begin, it’s only fair to authors that their hard work should be recognized. But also we can’t all read every book out there, much as we’d like to, but we want to get the essence of a story because it still calls out to us. We want to feel like we’ve read it 🙂 So it’s a boon to readers, too, who can’t read everything.

  24. Love this post!
    I think like most people I’m surprised it was an author who said reviews are irrelevant!!

    I’ve only started to write and appreciate reviews this year (even though I’ve been an avid reader my whole life) and I couldn’t disagree more!! Majority of the books on my ‘to-read’ list at the moment are based upon reviews and ratings I have read on various websites.
    I personally think its important to write reviews as it helps you to process the ideas and feelings you get immediately after finishing a book. Writing reviews has helped me to really appreciate what I’m reading so that I get more out of the book. (Not to mention the fact its nice to think I’m helping someone make their mind up over whether or not to give a book a try!)

    I don’t think anything that can help out a fellow book reader, or that can add to your own experience of a book should be shunned like that!

  25. Great post, thank you. Even better is the comments! I’m so glad to read so many of you who are not authors speaking about the value of them.
    I have a question for you all; how much work do you put into your review writing? What questions do you have about writing reviews? Oops, that’s two questions. Sorry, I’m just fired up by finding so many of you preaching the awesomeness of review writing! 🙂

    1. Lemme answer one of your questions!

      1) the post as a whole is a lot of effort – because I like to make it look presentable obviously. Some reviews are easier than others and sometimes I love a book so much that the review requires zero effort! Those are my favourites.

      1. Cool, thanks for answering one of my questions!
        Ah, so you would say your biggest challenge is just the technical side of blogging the review? Writing the review itself is either easy or very easy?

  26. Seriously, I can totally relate.

    Reviews are important, it’s all part of the sharing and suggesting process. And the fact that and AUTHOR said this, shocked me! That’s one of your main ways to get promoted, gone down the drain. Talk about ruining your career! Anyways, yeah. Reviews are great ways to recommend. This was an intresting post!

    I’m no author, I’m just a book blogger. This topic really bugs me, so I wrote a post about it. About book blogging. About why we book blog? What’s the point? The benefits? Pros and cons. I know your post is a little different but still up for discussion.
    Keep writing and inspiring,
    Train Of Thought

  27. Reviews are part of the whole process of creativity. Any author who wants to ignore reader feedback has got to be incredibly conceited or ridiculously complacent. You write to produce reactions and emotive responses from readers. The process of writing is also one of learning, that’s why reviews are so valuable. Even the worst review, the ones that hurt you to your very core, may also have something to teach you.

  28. I’m curious to know what the author was responding to in the first place. Don’t get me wrong; I think book reviews are essential, for all the reasons everyone above has stated. But I could see why an author would be frustrated with book reviews. Perhaps they don’t want to see their artistic work be reduced to simply a product of consumption. Maybe they have a book that’s just difficult to review. Some people will absolutely love it, while others no longer own a copy, because they’ve already set it on fire.

    I guess this comes from my own frustration with book reviews. I’ve read far too many reviews that miss the point of the book. For example, people complain that Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus does not have a real plot. And I agree with them, but when you’re writing about terrible migrant working conditions, it helps not to have a plot. You want you’re readers to feel stuck, just like the characters. When book reviews don’t match up with the author’s intentions/motivations/social commentary, I could see why the author might deem them irrelevant.

    Book reviews totally have a purpose. Like you said, they’re vital. They shape how we view and decide which books to read, and maybe even how we feel about them afterwards. However, when one is thinking about literary analysis, I think “What’s the Point of Book Reviews?” is a valid question.

    On the other hand, maybe the author in your post just got a terrible review and can’t get over it. Then no wonder they don’t like reviews.

  29. Book reviews are very important. I think they should be viewed as opinion, like most pieces that are based on opinions. They can get a conversation going between two readers and introduce books to other audiences.

    I personally write book reviews for myself so I can remember the finer points of a book down the road, but also because in the technological age I feel like it’s important that the book have a base on the internet. Many of my reviews don’t get a lot of comments but they get a lot of likes. So whether that is people saving the review to read later, or someone wanting to remember the book for later, I see that as a positive thing.

    I am also a writer. So book reviews for me, mean two things: 1) I am consuming a work of fiction which has something to teach me no matter what the content or subject, 2) I am promoting the work of another writer, 3) Regardless of the opinion of the review it’s essentially a critique of writing.

    After sitting through many workshops I have learned one important fact: when someone critiques your writing you take what you find important and useful and you apply it. There isn’t a writer out there who can’t benefit from constructive feedback and that’s what I attempt to do in my reviews.

    1. And you’re 100% right. I don’t know what this author was even on when she made that comment that they don’t matter. For a new writer and especially a self published one, I’d have thought that reviews were critical to see what readers are and are not liking about your work. Even bad reviews (honest and genuine ones) aren’t anything to be ashamed of x

  30. Woohoo! I’m not a writer at all, but I definitely depend on book reviews to let me know the next great thing to get my eyes on. I also get a huge kick out of a terribly written review..
    But from the author’s perspective, maybe he was trying to go after some type of independence in his writing.. he writes to write and is oblivious to the public opinion.

  31. A book review can tell you so many things you might not know from reading the description. It can tell you for example in romance whether the writing is flowery or more modern, whether there’s em, canoodling, ahem;) in the book, bad language. In a thriller or crime it can tell you if there’s gore or upsetting scenes, reviews can tell you if there’s bad language or if the book is written in first, third or from the point of view of a randomly placed narrator. God I hope that author was just having a bad day and had a good review and came around! I check reviews before I buy, I check the bad ones first, and if they say something that resonates with me, ie that they usually like\ don’t like a certain style that I do like, I’ll investigate further(yes, I’m a book nerd;););)) by the way sorry for the length of this comment, I may have got a little carried away!

  32. I am not an author. I’m a blogger and a reader…and I think book reviews are vital. Granted, I’m one of those crazy readers who walks into a library and pulls random books from genres I’ve never read before off the shelf to borrow. If I hate the book, who cares? I didn’t really lose anything (except the time wasted reading something awful). But, if I’m going to spend my own money…I don’t really want to take that risk. Books are not cheap, and I want to make sure that the $15 I’m spending is not better off dumped into my gas tank, you know?

    1. I feel the same with some books too especially ones I loved a LOT. Feels like no matter what I say it’s never going to do the book justice but it’s important we try xx

  33. I am a new author, in fact very new my first book isn’t even published yet, but the very first thing that came to my mind when I finished writing my first book was to get a review. That way I can find a way to improve my writing skills and find a direction in my career.
    So in my opinion as a writer, book reviews a quite important.

  34. I think reviews are of utmost importance. I trust the opinions of my fellow bloggers and based on their reviews, have read books I might normally have never picked up on my own.

  35. A beautiful post.
    *applause*
    I couldn’t agree more. Book reviews are a crucial thing in the world of publishing.
    I don’t even know how many times I bought a book based on a booktuber or a bookblogger who raved all about it. Or sometimes even *didn’t* buy a book based on a review.
    As a newbie blogger, I would like to believe my reviews make a difference. Drowning in a sea of thousands upon thousands of bookbloggers and reviewers, it’s hard to believe little-tiny-beginner you make any difference at all.
    Until I read this post. And it made me realize – you *do* make a difference, your review *does* make a difference. Even if you don’t see it just yet.

    My blog: http://magiverse.blogspot.co.il/

    1. It doesn’t matter what size blogger you are, your reviews definitely do make a difference. Every has to start somewhere, right? Make sure your tweet authors your reviews, put them on Amazon and Goodreads and anywhere else. Get them out as much as you possibly can because reviews DO matter. Show that stupid woman who had that stupid opinion that she’s wrong 😉

  36. I’m utterly surprised an author would make a comment like that. I write reviews and I don’t buy without reading at least a few about the book first. When friends ask for book recommendations, I send them links to reviews from around the bloggerverse. In complete agreement that one review may not seem like much but it’s the big picture we contribute to. Irrelevant…pssh.

    1. Hahaha it is pssssh indeed. An absolutely ridiculous notion like I can’t even get my head around it. I do believe I unfollowed her on Twitter as soon as seeing that comment because it annoyed me so much.

  37. I bet this Author would sing a different tune if he/she was backed by a bigger publishing house. But maybe that’s just me. Everyone who tells a story in any format has a simple thought behind it – to hear what the listener/reader thought, even if they express it in a word or more.

  38. Ha! You scared me there for a moment with your title. (Well played!) I agree that reviews are essential. I won’t buy a book anymore without first reading reviews, and I almost never read a book without at least getting a sense of how people are liking it on Goodreads. Especially for self-pubbed authors, I think they’re critical because otherwise I have no way of knowing the quality of the writing, editing, etc.

    1. Hehe that was the plan, I’m glad someone fell for it! And yes, I agree. Probably more so with self-published authors. I know there’s a lot of different reasons one might become self-published but I feel less inclined to read loads of reviews for published books, because I figure if a publisher has picked them up then they must be a certain degree of good. Self-published however have a lot to do themselves, editing etc.

  39. I totally agree with this! I pick up at least half of the books I read because of either reading book reviews on blogs or book tubers who recommend them and review them on their YouTube channel! Book reviews definitely aren’t irrelevant!

  40. Completely agree! Reviews are so very important and the blogging community provide such a vital support for writers. Reviews are also hugely helpful to readers too.
    Reviews also play a part in how Amazon markets books – I don’t claim to understand this but I know the more reviews you have the more likely your book is to pop up on an Amazon email or ‘also bought’ list.
    I, as an author, love reviews and more importantly the fabulous reviewers!

    1. That’s what I thought too — if your book is on Amazon or any other buy site, I’d have thought, self-published or not, reviews are critical? Bizarre woman! We’re so pleased when we’re told our reviews are appreciated — it works both ways for sure, Bella!

  41. I agree with this post 100%. I can’t believe their is an author out there that truly believes this. She’s either getting consistently bad reviews or no one is buying her books still or both. Yes, I rely on book reviews from my fellow bloggers! There are so many books out there, and reading is very time consuming (I can watch a movie without knowing what anyone else thinks because it’s only an hour or two).

    1. I think you’re probably right — it was a very odd book (I didn’t read it, just from what I saw, constantly on Facebook!) I’m not sure she marketed it but then I’m thinking what was the point in her even writing it to begin with? She kept on about how proud she was but like… huh?

  42. I can’t believe she said that. The nerve! Reviews give products (and books obviously) credibility. They let customers have a better understanding of what they are buying, and in some cases introduce new customers to the product. Honestly if this author person can’t see that then they don’t deserve any reviews at all. Let them find out the hard way

    1. I’m inclined to agree with you there. The second I saw the comment I thought well I for one, definitely won’t be reviewing her book and I can imagine a LOT of other bloggers feeling the same if they knew her thoughts towards reviews.

  43. Sadly, I am not an author (yet—hopefully that’ll change eventually), but I’d find them to be extremely important, particularly in growth. I would take it as a chance to see how I could improve on writing, but it’s also good to help market the books, or simply, as a blogger/reader, to express your emotions in a way you normally wouldn’t be able to.

    1. Aw, I hope you get there one day too! Yes, I agree, I think for a lot of smaller authors (self published or authors on their first book etc.) reviews would be a great way to see what you need to work on in future. If you don’t know, then you’re going to keep making the same mistakes in your future books — the things that readers didn’t like in the first place.

  44. Wow, an author saying reviews are irrelevant is absolutely absurd! Especially a self-published author, who has to market their own book, as a large part of that will be getting bloggers to review it! I do think reviews are really important, and as you have said, I would trust another blogger’s review more than the bestseller lists.

    1. I know right? Like ANY author saying that is crazy except maybe for the likes of J.K Rowling and even Zoella who’s books are going to sell left-right and centre ANYWAY, regardless of bloggers reviews. A self-pubbed author even more so because like you said, without reviewers NOBODY is going to know about their book! Madness.

  45. Couldn’t agree with you more Jenny! Reviews make a huge difference and I pay far more attention to them than a ‘chart’ position in a store. I’m so surprised an author would feel that reviews aren’t important.

  46. I totally agree that if a blogger posted a really positive review of a book, I’d be far more inclined to purchase it, rather than just seeing it on the best books stand in Tesco! Blogger reviews are very influential, if it’s a beauty review, a book review or a restaurant review! I’m with you 100%!

    Abbey ✨ http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

    1. I’ve seen a lot of great books in the Tesco charts, I will admit BUT the chances of Zoella or someone like that being on the top spot, just because of who she is is very likely and I don’t trust that because I’ve read SO MANY blogger reviews about that book which aren’t good!

  47. At the moment, we have more fingers than reviews, so know exactly how important they are! You could describe them as ‘the pump that keeps the heart of writing alive’…

  48. Book reviews are more important than anything else, especially for self published authors like me. But it was only when I published my debut novel last year that I really considered the power of the review and decided to try to help in my own small way by reviewing the books that I’ve enjoyed.

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