As I’m wrapping up another book review to submit to a publisher, I’m left wondering: why do we still do this? Consider that traditional academic book reviews:
- are not valued in promotion and tenure
- are limited in volume by the constraints of traditional publishing, and so many books do not get reviewed (I won a book award for my first book, but I’ve still yet to see it reviewed in a journal)
- have a limited potential readership (as an example, I don’t have access to the journal that I am submitting this latest review to!)
- assume authoritative expert opinion, but really just reflect one readerâ€™s partial opinion, and leave no room for a broader conversation (except in rare cases)
In all kinds of ways, then, the practice of academic book review is profoundly limited. So why do we bother? What might be the implications if we all decided to boycott the practice, and instead encouraged a culture of blogging our thoughts on new books?