Monday, May 19, 2008

Nothing Worth Much

Few things of real value are easily obtained, and this applies to book reviews, too. From observing how much hoopla has been generated recently over the context of what have been called bad book reviews, the time has come for a little discussion of the subject. A lot has changed over the past decade since POD publishing was born, and we all know that the single most significant fact is that any Cocker Spaniel with a typewriter can now publish a book, and that fact alone has changed everything!

The standards for what used to be called a published book have been lowered into the depths of self-absorbed mediocrity. Now everybody and his dog are published authors. What kind of self-centered kids are helicopter moms raising? What are kids learning in school these days, other than layer upon layer of political correctness? Manners good; PC bad. Why is the USA falling off the deep end of mediocrity these days? We never talk about the true source of problems or how to correct them.

There are thousands of inexperienced new authors out there with brains full of PC and hot air. They have not published a POD book to compete in the big leagues with traditionally published authors. They just want to be a cog in the wheel of the new Internet publishing vanguard. They want to get rich and famous. They want to show the world what geniuses they are because they had the funds to pay a POD publisher. They want to market their books so everyone else will see how successful they are. They want to read glowing reviews and see high sales numbers at Amazon. Of course we all want the same thing. The difference is that some of us want it because we worked hard enough to deserve it, but others just want it regardless of how it was obtained.

Probably the single most negative effect of the Internet has been the way it has opened the door for endless slap-fighting, generally bad manners, and an effusive mediocrity. Few arenas have exposed these weaknesses in our behavior more obviously than the advent of POD. Whole mini-industries have popped up to feed the monster, and most disgustingly to me at least, are the paid review sites. These truly represent the Payday Loan Department of the POD industry! Just like the payday loan companies, these prey on the stupid, desperate, and misinformed. They offer a short-term fix for the egotistical fame junkies among us. Do you really think they give a rat's ass about the customers who purchase your books? We all know that any new Wally-World in town shuts out local businesses in the area. For only $75, you, too, can lower the value of all book reviews, as well as that of your book, down into the pit of nothingness.

Of course there are bad reviewers out there. They are just more of the same tacky little turds that like to see their opinions reach beyond the second grade playground. It is unfortunate that Amazon, Blogspot, and Wordpress offer these jackasses a forum, but would you rather live in a police state? Nobody wants their ten-year-old watching porn, but without Playboy, I doubt that I would ever have become so fascinated by in-depth interviews or serious political topics. Shall we throw out the baby with the bathwater, the Playboy Interview with Debbie Does Dallas, or the legitimate book reviewers with the grade-school bloggers and paid sleazebuckets?

The book reviews on this site are intended to be read by both authors and readers. What most of the horde of shallow POD authors actually desire are not reviews, but superfluous blurbs of congratulation. Any author who is truly serious about his craft wants to attract readers who read his book solely because of the quality of his craftsmanship, not because the buyer was suckered by the advertising. Do not kid yourself: paid reviews are a form of advertising, not critique.

You may have noticed that we are no longer officially iUBR. Now we are PODBRAM! Whoopee! The URL remains the same for now so others can still find us. We still offer only legitimate book reviews for both authors and readers. There may sometimes be a tricky, narrow path to walk in order to try to positively affect both sides, but we at PODBRAM work diligently to avoid joining the ranks of the slap-fighter generation raised by helicopter moms. Accurate, unbiased reviewing is a tough business, but we at the all-free, all-the-time PODBRAM are not driven by monetary gains. We are driven by unadulterated dedication to our craft.


Bill Lewis said...

Excellent post. As a new author, it is very difficult to find legtimate review sites. I don't want flattery, I want critique. I wish there were more sites like yours available to us. Keep up the good work.

veinglory said...

I happen to be a huge fan of political correctness and I am not really sure why you pulled that issue into the mix. Being highly politically correct didn't stop me from getting a top class education, learning how to write marketable prose or acquiring a decent working knowledge of writing/publishing.

Floyd M. Orr said...

Thank you for the kind remarks, Bill. Emily, this post was intended as something of an over-the-top rant, not to be taken completely seriously, but only partly. I am a big fan of Bill Hicks, Denis Leary, Lewis Black, and Dennis Miller. I had that sort of imagery in mind when I wrote this rant. I wanted to sound at least a little arrogantly out of control. That was the fun of it.

Without Ribbons said...

You should become POD-DERY BRAM...and sell overpriced reviews that are pretty to look at! ;-)

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

I suppose if one loves living in a small pond consisting or his/her neighborhood, those lane "reviews" filled with gushing congratulatory hyperbole might carry weight. Elsewhere, they look like what they are and can harm the book as well as those supplying the purportedly objective reviews.