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January 05, 2005

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Bryon

I like the reviews in PW but I usually only read it at Borders for free. For pub info and news I'm a diehard Publisher's Marketplace junky. I got hooked on the free Publisher's Lunch newsletter when I was working at Random House and have continued to follow it and as they add more features, I subscribe to more features. Even his "old" stuff on deals that appears in the free edition a week or so later is still fresher than any magazine could be. Long live PM (which is really just PW with the W turned upside down).

Jim Winter

I've always had a problem with PW's anonymous reviews. To me, not signing the review seems disingenuous. You can make the statement behind a cloak of anonymity and not have to back it up.

Further more, a bad review might prompt me to look into a book if I know that reviewer's tastes. (Likewise a good review.) There's no barometer, and in at least one case, I know of a reviewer who was handed a noir novel. She hated noir. Told the author she hated noir. Told her editor she hated noir. So why give it to her? And since she spoke to the author, deleting the by-line (and thus a credit) was rather pointless.

One thing PW can do to improve is to ditch the anonymous reviews. It doesn't do anyone involved any good, esp. PW.

Jenny D

I find it absolutely maddening the way that PW is unavailable online to non-subscribers. Surely they could put it up with some suitable lag time to make sure they didn't lose subscriptions? Or keep parts off-line (maybe the exhaustive short-review sections, since this is presumably what people subscribe for) to protect their base?

In grad school I wrote a number of those anonymous PW reviews, and found it incredibly frustrating--more because of the shortness of the form and the badness of most of the novels I was sent than because of the anonymity, but I would tend to agree with the call to give reviews bylines. (Perhaps the main reason they haven't done it already is that it would reveal that they rely on a huge stable of underpaid and underqualified grad students and other similar types? Speaking autobiographically, of course... I am sure that (a) they pay more now than they did in the mid-90s and (b) lots of the people who write those reviews are supremely well-qualified...)

Bill Peschel

When I was regularly reviewing books, I would have loved to had access to PW because they were as comprehensive as possible in their reviews. But their subscription rate was so ridiculous that I would try to catch a copy at the library, which was a hit-and-miss proposition at best. But when you run a monopoly, you can afford to charge what you like.

Laura

I know Sara Nelson and while it would be presumptuous to describe her as a friend -- we've met only three times -- I'm sure she would be a friend if we lived in the same city. Funny, smart, passionate about books, shrewd about the industry. A total joy, in short.

So if PW is ailing -- and I'm not sure what I think on that score, but then I am utterly biased about PW, which has been very, very good to me -- Sara's a great person to have on board.

Shelly

As a public librarian (and wannabe writer), I've been reading PW for over 20 years and until recent years when I started reading relevant blogs, most of the info I got on the publishing industry and upcoming books and trends was from PW. I don't mind the unsigned reviews, because I doubt I'd know the reviewers (LJ has signed reivews and I don't pay attention to who the reviewers are). The timeliness of PW's info has become a factor recently, but I still plan a lot of book buying (for me and for the library) around the announcements issues and was annoyed when the mass market pb announcements were removed from the print mag and were available only online (thus requiring registration and having a subscription--they finally told us how libraries could activate theirs). And the expense is also hurting PW. Many libraries have had to drop their subs due to an ever rising cost during times of budget cuts.

Jeff G.

Re unsigned PW reviews, I believe, based only on slim circumstantial evidence (and notwithstanding Jenny D's comment above), that PW's reviewing pool draws heavily from the ranks of publishing itself, and to reveal these names would be akin to pasting a huge "conflict of interest" banner across the whole section. Not that the reviewers aren't approaching the books faithfully; it just wouldn't look so hot.

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