I’m not quite sure why it took so long, but at last we have a literary equivalent to Rotten Tomatoes. Book Marks, which is part of the Literary Hub website, is now up and running.
Just as Rotten Tomatoes does for movies, Bookmarks will aggregate the reviews from professional critics, assigning each new book a grade from A to F according to the consensus of critical opinion. Thumbnail versions of the reviews will be posted, along with links to take you to the full text. There will be a space for average readers to weigh in, too, but the emphasis here is on the major mainstream reviews—ones we may disagree with, but which certainly carry plenty of weight for publishers, booksellers, and book buyers, not to mention the authors whose careers may ultimately be affected for better or worse.
In the age of the internet, received critical opinion has been devalued because anybody at all can now state an opinion and put it out there for the world. And there’s something to be said for that, as a book’s popularity can often buck the critical tide. In recent years, we’ve seen self-published authors who have become phenomenons without the support of mainstream reviews.
But there’s still something to be said for a perceptive, insightful review by a professional critic who may bring a career’s worth of education and experience to his or her work. Lord knows we may not always agree with their findings. Still, what they have to say will always carry weight within the publishing industry, and Book Marks will make it easy to find a book’s reviews gathered together at a single keystroke. And who knows? Maybe it will return to book critics a bit of the respect they’ve missed lately.
I’d love to know from this blog’s readers whether they think they will use this new site or ignore it as just so much “book noise” that’s already out there.