Last week, we learned that adults are not allowed to read anything written for people under the age of 18. We learned that we were in fact stunted developmentally and that is the only reason we could sympathize with the problems of protagonists younger than us.
This week, we learn that us amateur book reviewers, particularly those of us on Goodreads, are contributing to the distribution of sub-par work rather than leaving recommendations up to the literary experts, the Professional Book Reviewer. (Also amateur writers who write as self-expression rather than...umm...why else do writers write? Money? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA wait.)
Now, I will start out with some positive comments. Robinson isn't entirely off in some of the problems he lists in the book publishing industry. (He mentions the cut in pay to writers, which begs the question of "why should these writers continue to write" if not self-expression and creativity? Entirely for the edification of other people? HAHAHAHAHAHA I learn a lot of new words from Preston and Child but I don't think that's their point.)
However, the crux of his piece is that without the guidance of professional book reviewers, the rest of us are lost, adrift in a sea with no way of discerning land, even though we know what land looks like, and may have learned to use the telescope on our own rather than attending lectures on "Telescopes' Usage in the Crows' Nest During Various Weather Phenomena". How are we, the common non-intellectual people, to know which books are good to read, and which are terrible? How can we be a discerning public without kind Father Book Reviewer to steer us in the right direction?
Simple. The way most people learn about new books. Friends, family, the cover drawing us in, etc. As much as Robinson would like to think book reviewers were once guardians of the culture, they weren't. On the occasion I've actually decided to read a book recommended by a reviewer at the New York Times or other newspapers, I've found that I generally hate the book. Clearly there is a gap between what the reviewer thinks and what I think. And while a well-written critique of a book can be useful for everyone, it doesn't have to be written only by professional reviewers.
But that's where the elitism comes in. It's not enough for me to form my own opinions on a book. If the book reviewer is meant to be the guardian of culture, then it stands to reason that those disagreeing with them are the "uncultured", the "commoners", as this Book Riot article puts it.
Taste in books differs. While I may look askance at someone who thinks Twilight is good literature, I'm sure someone else will point out that, despite my realization that the Selection series mainly fluff, I made a little squee noise when I saw the third book had come out. People generally give us many good reasons to dislike them. Why make something trivial such as which book they like a reason? (Unless it's for a reason that reveals something terrible about them-such as the Neo-Nazis who think Lord of the Rings was totally about them being right, even though it was kind of the exact opposite.)
So, Mr. Robinson, let's make a deal. You review the books you like, and I review the books I like, and let people decide what they want to read.
But to make you feel better, you can have this Cleolinda mousepad. It seems to suit you.