The Future of Book Reviewing?

Hopefully (probably) not. But because no one ever seems to believe me when I mention this, attached below is an email I just received, one that brings up a lot of questions for me. (More after the letter.)

From: Editors at ForeWord Reviews <editors@forewordreviews.com>
Subject: You’ve Been Approved for a Digital Review!
Date: May 9, 2011 3:03:21 PM EDT
To: Chad W Post <chad.post@rochester.edu>
Reply-To: Editors at ForeWord Reviews <editors@forewordreviews.com>

Dear Chad Post,

Thank you for sending us your book for consideration. We love seeing new books.

I’m writing to let you know that The Book of Happenstance was approved for a ForeWord Digital Review.

Digital Reviews is our new review service for books that meet our standards for worthy books, but which we can’t cover in our print magazine. Each issue of ForeWord only allows us to cover a few great pre-publication books, and many books come to us that we’d love to review if we had the space. Our Web site has lots of space!

Digital Reviews are the same as print ForeWord reviews in many respects: the books must meet our quality standards; we use the same proficient reviewers; and the reviews are featured on our Web site and iPhone app and licensed for publication in the top title information databases used by booksellers and librarians: Baker & Taylor’s TitleSource III, Ingram’s iPage, Bowker’s Books in Print, and Gale’s licensed databases.

Digital Reviews are different from ForeWord reviews in that they are a fee-for-service review. A $99 fee covers the expense of writing and posting the review.

Please understand that sometimes a reviewer, who spends more time with each book than we can at the ForeWord offices, finds that a book is not completely up to ForeWord’s review standards. When that happens, the reviewer will decline to review the book, and I get in touch with the author or publisher, and we refund the review fee. I appreciate your understanding in this matter.

If you are interested in purchasing a review, follow the link below.


We will keep the book in our stacks for another two weeks. If you decide to order a review after that time, we will ask you to send another copy.

Please contact us at editors@forewordreviews.com if you have further questions.


Editors at ForeWord Reviews
ForeWord Reviews


I mean, I can understand the need to commodify one’s business and website, but, well, this just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think mainly because it really cheapens the product. Obviously some reviews that are paid for will be negative ones, but nevertheless, the only reviews on the site are ones that are bought. That makes for a very skewed representation of what the new books are . . .

And as Nate quipped, “We should ask if we can pay them $500 and have them review it 5 different times.”

Finally, new policy: With every book, I’m going to email ForeWord that we’ve “selected them as worthy of receiving a review copy” and that we’ll send this along once we receive the requisite $15 to cover the cost of the book and shipping & handling. Thankyouverymuch.

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