Book Reviewers Are The Academic Version of (Social Media) Influencers. So Why Are They Not Getting Paid For Their Services?

Ana Martins
4 min readSep 22, 2022
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Academic reviewers tend not to be paid at all for their services to the profession. As a matter of fact, they are used to receiving a copy of the book that they are reviewing as payment for their work.

This notion, that the author of a book review ought not to be compensated in any way for her/his/their efforts, arguably relies on existing perceptions of book reviews as occupying the bottom of the list when it comes to hierarchical considerations of academic kinds of writing.

Writing a book review will not bring you the type of academic recognition that is expected from writing books, articles, book chapters and edited books. As a result, writing a book review is not generally considered to be an intellectually “serious” or even worthwhile activity. It is often perceived as an easily accomplished, formulaic task.

Yet, the best book reviews are the opposite of boring or parasitic. They are imaginative and compelling. They go the extra mile to draw readers in, and to challenge them. In this regard, the best book reviews are just like any other compelling piece of original, creative writing, despite the fact that they happen to be academic in tone.

Book reviews are important because they set the stage for the serious examination of the problems and particular niches of knowledge they address. They are meant to encourage theoretical dialogue. Book reviewers are critical in outlining new questions, emerging issues, novel theoretical or thematic paradigms in which to examine enduring problems.

When a book fails to be reviewed, it goes unseen. It falls through the cracks of the knowledge factory. For example, the scarcity of scholarly book reviews when it comes to children’s literature could be said to fuel perceptions of the field as not being as serious or as worthy of canonical scrutiny as other kinds of literature.

In many ways, this exemplifies the extent to which it is better to get a bad book review than to not get a review at all.

On a more practical note, book reviews can also arm librarians with a wealth of knowledge about themes and debates in virtually any…

Ana Martins

Researcher | Writer | Mother of two | Author of Magic Stones and Flying Snakes