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Inside the Critics' CircleBook Reviewing in Uncertain Times$
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Phillipa K. Chong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167466

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167466.001.0001

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Do We Need Book Reviews?

Do We Need Book Reviews?

(p.118) Chapter 7 Do We Need Book Reviews?
Inside the Critics' Circle

Phillipa K. Chong

Princeton University Press

This chapter reveals how critics grapple with the question of the ongoing relevance of book reviewing given perceived tensions between its artistic and journalistic commitments. It also examines how critics respond to challenges about what is distinctly valuable about journalistic reviews against the larger background of who makes up the reviewing field, including the rise of new amateur entrants and the tradition of academic criticism. The chapter shows that, contrary to popular understandings, economic and technological transformations were not the most salient concerns among the critics interviewed when asked about their view of the current state of book reviewing. Distinctions between online and offline, new media and legacy media, or digital and print are not the relevant battle lines when discussing the value and future legitimacy of book reviewing. Critics were more likely to locate the threats to the unique value and mission of journalistic criticism in the practices of other types of reviewers—and not just amateurs.

Keywords:   book reviewing, journalistic reviews, academic criticism, journalistic criticism, amateur reviewers

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