‘Riveting!’: The Quandary of the Book Blurb

From The New York Times Room for Debate page

. . . if so many books are being commended, are they all commendable? It’s the perennial question of whether the blurbs on book covers are still meaningful or have become just background noise. After all, Kindle Singles are doing just fine without covers — and cover blurbs.

Do book blurbs serve readers? Do they help writers?

The opinion of the four “debaters” — Stephen King, Sophfronia Scott, Bill Morris, and Sharon Bowers — can be found here, along with those of countless New York Times readers. I found the best piece to be Sharon Bowers‘, the only non-writer out of the four. She actually had something to say about the general practice of blurbing, thus giving us readers, the audience in this great production of publishing, a peek behind the scenes of how this tiny cog in the publishing machines work. The rest blabbed about their personal experiences and left the readers to make out on their own why they should care. Stephen King, in particular, practically provided a blurb on blurbing, but I suppose that is the privilege of being M. King.

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2 Responses to ‘Riveting!’: The Quandary of the Book Blurb

  1. Interesting…I’ll have to look at that link. I have been asked to write a book review (not exactly a blurb, but the same basic concept) and I’m very nervous! It’s the first time I’ve done it and I know the author – a little – and, to top it off, I didn’t LOVE the book. SO…I’m stalling by reading it a second time and taking notes and I’m almost done so I’m really worried about what I will write! Because, like you said, I don’t just want it to be all praise and roses! I want it to be real…and helpful…but kind! Ugh.

  2. Hi Gretchen!

    Here’s an article from Salon that you may want to read then, http://www.salon.com/2010/07/09/blurbs_2/. It discusses “faint or highly strategic praise” for those books that you find less than enthralling.

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