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Warning! Will the book industry accept the “new” Kirkus Discoveries or will Kirkus Reviews suffer?

Well, I confess this one has me stumped. I just don’t know what I think about it. The September 20th entry on the Waterboro Library’s h20boro lib blog warns of a new review process being initiated at Kirkus Reviews. As Waterboro puts it, Kirkus is “commissioning” reviews with their new Kirkus Discoveries. This has all the makings of a controversy and I expect I’ll be hearing much more in the near future.

“Since our inception in 1933, premium subscribers have turned to Kirkus to market books, purchase paperback and foreign rights, and option and buy film rights-all based on the trusted and independent voice of our reviews.

Now, for the first time in 71 years, Kirkus is offering a new review service-an opportunity to bring deserved attention to new and recent titles, and for rights and acquisition agents to pick up books-conventionally published, self-published, e-published and Print-On-Demand.

Welcome to Kirkus Discoveries, from the publication that, for seven decades, has lent its brand’s credibility, integrity, and pedigree to nearly 5,000 books a year prior to their publication. Kirkus is now offering the same service to self-selecting publishers: Any publisher seeking greater exposure for a title can gain awareness through our network of influential readers and buyers.”

It looks like Kirkus has set up a new review process that will be independent from the other well-established and accepted reviews in Kirkus Reviews. I’m sure this separation is to maintain the “high” regard Kirkus Reviews generates when they cover a book under “normal” procedures. The new Kirkus Discoveries is essentially an advertising and promotional arm that requires payment for a review to be generated and then distributed through their network via the website and the newsletter. Kirkus is clearly resting all of this on their highly regarded name, but will that translate to this new enterprise? The time-honored way is by way of unpaid reviews and a positive “Kirkus Review” is highly prized by authors and publishers because of the reliance of many industry buyers such as librarians and booksellers upon the reviews to make purchases. The big question, I think, is will the same audience that so prizes the Kirkus Reviews imprimatur accept the declarations of the new“Kirkus Discoveries team?”

If this works, it will be an immediate plus for those who publish in the new media such as e-book publishing and self-publishing. So far the door has remained closed to many of the participants when it comes to the traditional channel of reviews and distributions. Those often discussed but seldom admitted “mid-list” authors may also find this to be a new way to gain exposure since their own publishers are generally focused on the top-tier authors and little else.

Because my new book falls into the category that Kirkus Reviews would not normally cover, this is something that may be of interest to me, but I’m definitely going to have to spend some time reading through all the reviews done to date and researching the results and the acceptance so far. I’ll keep you posted on whatever I discover.

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