Today in Book-Critic Obsolescence: Amazon.com Empowers the Unwashed Masses


The steady marginalization of book critics continues apace, as the citizen reviewers of Amazon will now get access to the one advantage critics had over the hoi polloi: galleys. According to Publishers Weekly, advance copies of books from participating publishers will be sent out to Amazon's top reviewers for their new Project Vine program. No longer will newspaper and magazine reviews be the first to land on Amazon's book pages; now rodboomboom (#34) gets a copy of the book at the same time as the New York Times.

Meanwhile, criticism takes another hit, as the Summary Judgementization of the critical world is essentially completed. Daily Forward book writer Joshua Cohen's Capsules Exquis pull selections from various reviews and transform them into found poetry; it's as if the collective wisdom on a title has been crystallized into a unique and gorgeous objet d'art. Surely this excerpt from Cohen's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows capsule is a more potent review than the thousands of words written for newspapers across the country:

Then — cut, burned, nearly choked to death in freezing water, tortured, maimed. Sympathetic to amusement, the “metaphysical” or “transcendent,” none of this is meant as a detraction — the sublime is bought with blood.
Spoiler Alert! Originality isn’t the point. The next 746 pages are not going to be a pleasure. Some critics have objected, nevertheless.

Amazon Launches Galley Program and Self-Publishing Division [PW]
Capsules Exquis [JoshuaCohen.org]