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I really enjoyed this opinion piece about the future of the book review because it acknowledges the realities of the changing landscape, realities that critics at the major newspapers seem content to ignore. For readers like me, reviews are a way to narrow the field. There are simply too many books out there for me to rely on the opinions of critics who praise every book they review out of some kind of outmoded ethical obligation to… well, I’m not really sure what.

Unfortunately, the increase in negative criticism is creating a gulf between readers (who thanks to Amazon and Goodreads, are now reviewers) and the writers whose books they read and comment on. That’s why we get author flameouts and sites like Stop The Goodreads Bullies, which I won’t link to because the site’s “outing” of the real life identities of reviewers with whom they don’t agree is so distasteful that I don’t want to drive up their numbers by even a single page view (here’s the gist of what STGB did, for the curious).

I think the reader/author gulf is only going to widen as more and more readers turn to blogs and social media for book recommendations. There is no “gentleman’s agreement” between Goodreads readers and authors and there never can be. The internet is too vast. For every commenter who says we should raise the level of dialogue, there are ten people ready to defend their right to expression. Maybe it’s time we accepted that negative reviews are here to stay.

In that spirit, I’ll share one Goodreads reviewer’s hilarious, animated review of 50 Shades of Grey. Be warned, the review does contain a couple of four letter words.

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