Book Review from Kirkus?

Library Administrator's Digest, November 2004 | Go to article overview

Book Review from Kirkus?


Kirkus Reviews has long prided itself on being a sort of Consumer Reports for the book publishing industry, proclaiming its independence by steadfastly refusing to accept advertising and producing early, plain-spoken reviews that can amplify or smother a new book's early buzz.

Now, however, Kirkus is embracing a new spirit of commercialism. This fall, it is starting two new online publications with the Kirkus name: for $350 Kirkus Discoveries will review a new book from any publisher; for $95, Kirkus Reports will recommend a selected lifestyle.

Kirkus, known for its often-tart reviews, can heavily influence what books are bought for public libraries and how many copies show up in bookstores. But some readers of Kirkus Revieius question whether Kirkus can objectively review books with one arm while, with the other, taking money from the same publishers for other reviews. Essentially, Kirkus Discoveries gives those paying customers veto power, since they could have a review killed if they didn't like it.

"I'm really troubled by that," said Rivkah Sass, executive director of the Omaha Public Library, which uses Kirkus Reviews to help it decide which books to add to its collection. …

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