Wednesday, 4 March 2015

On reviews


When was the last time you read a book or watched a film or bought an album by a new band without someone, anyone, recommending it? It didn't have to be your best friend telling you about a new film starring nobody you've heard of, made on a low budget and with no big studio backing it. It could have been a review you read somewhere. Same with that book - whatever it was. Maybe the cover caught your eye when you were checking your recommends list on Amazon. Maybe the author's name rang a bell but you couldn't remember where from, then you figured what the hell, you'd read the sample online and see if it was worth a bit of cash.

When's the last time you bought a piece of created art without the slightest recommendation coming you way? I bet it's been a while. I'm the same as anyone, at least when it comes to new music or films. (New books come my way all the time in my day job). Couldn't tell you when I last took a chance on an album by a new band without checking the reviews on Amazon or maybe asking a mate what they thought of it. But there's the problem, of course. That new album, book or film won't have any reviews until someone checks it out and posts a comment online or mentions it to a friend. If it doesn't have any public comments or reviews, then it's doubtful anyone else will be interested in giving it a go.

Another couple of questions.

What does a writer owe a reader?

The best story they can tell, obviously. And story encompasses character and plot as much as it encompasses quality writing.

What does a reader owe the writer?

Other than the cost of the book, nothing at all. Not a bean. It's all on the writer. They owe their reader everything with their story. The reader gets it all without having to do a thing other than fork out a few of their hard-earned readies. A pretty good deal for the reader, I'm sure you'll agree.


If that reader wanted to do a favour for the writer, they could do a lot worse than tell their friends about this book or film they enjoyed. Shit, they could tell their mate it was a load of crap. They could say either online. As long as it's an honest comment, it will be a favour to the writer. It's not owed in the least. It's simply helping the writer out because without those truthful reviews or comments, the writer's creation will be forgotten. 

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