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To All The Blog Book Reviewers

This is an open letter to all of you who do book reviews for Tyndale, Waterbrook, Nelson, Bethany/Baker, Cook, etc.    Including myself.    (If Zondervan has a program, I’d really like to be part of it.)

You’re doing a fabulous job.   Your reviews on your blogs are accomplishing what they are expected to do:  Create awareness of new titles among a demographic that reads social media and may not catch publicity on any other promotion avenue.

You’re also doing something else:  You are reminding people of the power of books.   You’re forcing them to confront their own dearth of reading.   You’re causing a few to venture back into the bookstores.   (I know this because years ago, bloggers did that for me; they inspired me to read more, for which I am grateful.)

You’re also accomplishing something else:  You’re growing as a person with each book you review.   It colors your thinking and gives you additional perspective.   And who knows… chances are a few weeks after the formal review, you might just find yourself quoting the author once again, or comparing similar titles down the road.

But lets not let our heads swell too much, okay?

I’ve been at the this “recommending books” game longer than most of you; only I did it for years in the pre-internet environment that was the local Christian bookstore.   (Remember those?)

And guess what?

Your recommendations don’t make very much difference in the larger scheme of things.    What your readers are actually going to purchase (or, in the case of e-books, download) is determined by these factors:

  • What their pastor suggests they purchase — this is a huge factor
  • What their denomination sanctions — publisher imprints matter
  • What the televangelist or TV preacher is promoting
  • What is mentioned or quoted in other books they are already reading

I know this because after years in a retail environment — you don’t want to know how many — of recommending titles and then being met with indifference or blank stares, I have learned that in the broader scheme of things, I am a nobody in terms of influence.

Oh yes, there are some successes.   Some people will catch the passion I have for a title and make the leap from curiosity to credit card.   But I am not match for the four forces listed above.

My advice?

Keep reading.   Keep blogging.   Keep recommending.   As with the offer of salvation itself, you are responsible for putting the message out there.   Don’t lose the passion.  Don’t be concerned about the results.

But don’t sign up to be a referrer or affiliate of any big online book vendors, either.

The rewards of reviewing books online lie elsewhere.

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