There’s a very interesting discussion about this subject over at Dovegreyreader.
I’ve had lovely and unlovely reviews from both sides of the fence, so it’s not like I have an axe to grind for one ‘side’ or the other. What I like about the best of the book blogs is that there’s a context to the review – ie, you only have to scroll through a few of the blogger’s previous pages to have an idea of their likes and dislikes. As a writer this means I can place that review – decide if I want to give it weight or not. If I think I agree with the blogger on several other writers (or several hundred other writers in some cases!) then I will take what they say more seriously, be it positive or negative, about my own work. We used to be able to do this when there were more regular critics on various papers, but with books pages being brutally cut in the past few years, and reviews being subbed out further and further from the paper itself, it’s far harder to do now.
And (as is mentioned in dgr’s replies) in a world where bookshop window displays are paid for by publishers, where too many people went to a posh university with too many others (not me then!), I do like the wide range of the internet book world. I may not always like what people say about my books – have been known to gnash teeth over both traditional print and blog reviews – but I very much support the right of both to keep on with it. I fear though, that with print newspapers disappearing, the rise of one may be accompanied by the demise of the other. Not because of – simply alongside.