Too much has been written already about "newspaper reviewing versus online reviewing" (Scott Pack's phrase which he uses to introduce his rejoinder to Rachel Cooke's ill-informed, nugatory and defensive recent piece in the Observer), so I'll restrict myself to restating what I had taken to be self-evident: the internet is a massive space and "online reviewing" comes in many shapes and sizes and of widely differring quality. An enthusiastic customer review on Amazon is not the same as a review in Jacket magazine and nor does any sensible reader equate the two (journalists and populist academics aside, it would seem).
And no two blogs are the same. Some (often quite winningly) blether inconsequentially on about what books lie unread on the bedside table; some engage in serious criticism. All of this is, surely, utterly unambiguous. My fear with this debate, however, is that the previously mentioned Scott Pack (ex-Waterstones Buying Manager) and the novelist Susan Hill are continually referenced as somehow the voices of the blogosphere, the defenders of bloggers and blogging. When interviewed, I've heard neither cite serious literary websites and blogs (RSB, This-Space, the Literary Saloon, Spurious ... one could list for hours) and neither seem to be particularly well-informed of what they are being wheeled-out to defend. Commenting beyond this risks flattering this idiotic debate with import it doesn't possess. Next time you read an article about blogging in the mainstream media, however, take it with a mountain of salt.