Book review editors speak out

By Carmen Comment

Over at The Book Standard, Adam Langer assembles a motley crew of newspaper book editors to talk about — oh, the usual stuff: how many books they get a week, how many get ignored, and what they really, really don’t want to see ever again:

Adam Langer: What sorts of books do you receive that you would never, ever, ever assign for review?

Arthur Salm: Self-help. Romance. Self-published (don’t EVEN get me started). Business guru. Thrillers with covers depicting a dagger plunged through either a swastika or a hammer & sickle.

Greg Langley: Self-help.

Sam Hodges: We get a lot of diet, health, exercise and business books, though we never review them. If the author is local, I might do a column or feature.

Jeff Salamon: I receive plenty of Harlequin romances and other tawdry-looking mass-market paperback romance lines, self-help books, business advice books and narrowly targeted religious books that I have never assigned and have no plans to assign. But I am loathe to say “never, ever, ever, ever, ever” because if one of my freelancers said to me, “Hey, I’d really like to look at the state of the modern Harlequin romance novel (or business advice book or ‘How to organize your life’ book),” I’d probably tell him or her to go for it.

John Mark Eberhart: 99 percent of self-help books evoke no critical response from me at all. I think many of them are poorly written and some are actually dangerous. Some people are interested in them, though, so what tends to happen at this newspaper is we try to find other ways to cover the high-profile ones, without doing a review. In short, though, I don’t spend my freelance money on them.

I guess the self-help romance novel would make their collective heads explode on sight.