Literary Hub (LitHub) wants to be the Rotten Tomatoes for books. It recently launched Book Marks, which aggregates book reviews. Depending on your attitude, this is the latest sign of either our love affair with algorithm or overreliance on it.
Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature created LitHub last year with the support of more than 100 organizations representing publishers, literary journals, and independent bookstores as the go-to website for literary culture. So why is it aspiring to be the next Rotten Tomatoes?
“Book Marks exists to serve as a consolidated information resource for the reading public and a link between the worlds of literary creation, criticism, and consumption,” according to the website. “We hope it will bring more attention to great books and great criticism.”
Aggregation of Book Reviews
Book Marks searches for book reviews in U.S. literary journalism outlets every day. When a book has at least three reviews, it assigns a grade for each of those reviews and takes the average, which is then entered into a database.
There is a section where readers can express their opinions, alongside professional critics. The website features the hottest books of the season, new books, most reviewed, and best reviewed. Fiction and nonfiction categories are divided according to genres.
Book Marks acknowledged the negative reaction it has received, saying some readers have expressed dismay at aggregation of works of criticism, which feels “reductionist and simplistic, and tarnishes the idea of both criticism and literature as art.” The staff invites readers to participate in the comment section to make it a “smart and useful site” for all book lovers.
How do you feel about book reviews aggregation? Check out Book Marks and see if you agree with the grades of your favorite books.
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