An idea about reviews for new media & independent publishers

Alright, so here’s a post about a concept that has occurred to me. It would probably serve me well to implement and participate in it, but -like so many of my ideas- it will probably not get further than this post. Depends on how ambitious I feel, I suppose.

It’s a pretty basic idea: Old media’s old ideas about reviews don’t work in the new digital world.

Not just because fewer and fewer book reviews are being published, and not just because the old media isn’t interested in new media, independent and self-publishers, and anyone who happens to use the ‘new’ tech of print-on-demand (unless they “hit it big”, sell out, and stop being those things). The old ideas don’t work for reasons I discussed here semi-recently: More books are being written and published than ever before, and more than could ever be reviewed in the old media without overwhelming everything else. Over a thousand new books a day in North America alone, last year. Heck, five of those were mine. So what’s the solution for getting all these new books reviewed? Heckifiknow. But I have an idea for getting some of them reviewed.

How about creators themselves -rather than just pro and amateur reviewers- review each other’s work? There could be some sort of central site where authors could log in and connect with each other and readers could come and see all the reviews in a central, searchable, well-organized location. The reviews could be done quid-pro-quo, ie: I’ll review yours if you review mine, and every book review then brings visibility to both works (because there’s always that “[name of reviewer] is the author of books such as [blah] and [bleh] and writes a blog at [blerg]” at the bottom of a review). Authors could exchange PDFs (MP3s, HTML files, URLs, et cetera), or probably, if they wanted a paper copy of the book, send them a pBook at cost (instead of full retail, since you’re getting a review, but also because none of us wants to go broke trying to get internet reviews). Reviews could then be cross-posted to the authors’ blogs, linked form their books’ sites, et cetera… Increasing the visibility of the review site. And the site would be able to scale better than most of the solo-blogger-reviewers out there, since every new author that wanted to be reviewed would have to become a reviewer. It should be media-agnostic, since we’re all internet people, here: eBook, audiobook, POD book, dynamic hyperbook, whatever, it’s all good. Lots of duplicate reviews are (I think) good, since different people have different opinions on different books – book reviews aren’t objective. A system similar to the one they use at MiniBookExpo For Bloggers could be used (except not just for Canadians), so one could be restricted to three (or so) pending reviews at a time.

Obviously, such a site would take a certain amount of work to be put up and maintained, but since it’s powered by the strengths of the network (each independent author / publisher handles their own distribution of the books, and is in charge of posting their own reviews, and for generating traffic to the site, and the more authors are involved the better the whole thing works), it’s mostly a matter of getting it off the ground.

Ooh, or does this exist already, and I don’t know about it? Point me in the right direction. I’ll sign right up. I should be doing more reading, myself, and adding the selfish motivation of getting my own books reviewed sure would help get me to review other people’s works. I bet it’d do the same thing for yours. Know anyone who could help put this thing together?