#BookReviews: How late is too late?

As a book blogger, I often have the privilege of reading and reviewing books near or even sometimes before their publication date. It is sometimes unspoken, but always understood that reviewing a book near to its release date is optimum. At least that is what the publishing industry would have us believe. And who am I to quibble?
But I wonder… Do the authors really care WHEN you review their book? Do they care if you are reviewing it 1-5 years AFTER it was released? Or, are they just pleased that you have read their work and reviewed it online?

Also, do readers really care if the book they are interested in reading a review on came out this month, this year, this decade, or even this century?

My opinion?

Perhaps it is just my way of making myself feel better about being almost 200 titles behind with my review commitments.  LOL

If I read a book that was published back in 2002 and I love it, then write a review stating why – does that no longer count?  I maintain that it does. I maintain that people who read reviews will be tempted (or not) by a fiction book review regardless of when that book was published. Their only concern is that it is still available to either buy or borrow from their local library.

I fully realize that this is quite different for non-fiction book reviews. Non-fiction is meant to be more timely, thus current reviews near to the publication date is optimum for all concerned.

What is you opinion on this issue? Authors, publishers, and readers might have widely different views on the subject. I’d be interested in hearing yours.

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About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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66 Responses to #BookReviews: How late is too late?

  1. WiseCrusader says:

    That’s a very good post. It encourages me to write reviews of my archived titles in netgalley. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Samantha says:

    I read and review a book whenever I feel like it. I think there’s definitely value in reviewing a book that’s been discovered later; if someone else is interested because of your review, then you’ve accomplished your goal, right? It can bring attention to older books, and that’s wonderful. I can see the value in reviewing books around publication date for sales and generating hype, but that’s not always realistic. And honestly, if you discover a book that’s been published 10 years ago and you want to gush over it, you’re well within your rights to do so.

    Though I don’t really get or ask for any ARCs, so it might be easy for me to say this because I don’t have any real pressure.

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  4. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins says:

    I heard an interview with a literary agent once (can’t for the life of me remember where, but will try to track it down), and she said that backlist reviews are actually super important – they’re what keep a book “alive” after the rush of new release interest is gone. I can understand the push to have books reviewed at the time of their release, BUT I don’t think that means later reviews (years later, decades even) don’t have value.

    Like

  5. Previous to becoming an NG/EW reviewer, I read as I pleased, and outside of favorite authors, I was rarely pulling from the latest releases. More often than not, I was going back in time at least a few years, so the timing of the reviews made little difference to me. While I understand the value to everyone (readers, publishers, authors) of reviewing close to the release date, I think there is also value in reviewing later. After all, I imagine a fair number of authors are paid residuals, so on-going sales continue to fill the coffers. Plus later reviews can lead to a resurgence and/or bolster a books chances of being optioned for tv/movie or of that option being exercised. Some books are timeless, and some books are ahead of their time, and more recent reviews might spark a fire that had been smoldering, waiting for the right fuel.

    Yes, I agree with you. Definitely in terms of fiction, though I do think there are benefits in nonfiction as well, either because the subject matter hasn’t changed much or because it’s important to review the foundations on which something was built.

    Love this type of post, Lynne!

    Like

  6. skyecaitlin says:

    A book is a book, and date truly has nothing to do with it. I think you are right on target!

    Like

  7. Alexandra says:

    I read and review books published from different years, though, it is true, most are within the last 4-5 years. But I don’t think time has anything to do with it. Unless an author or publishing company has expressly asked that you review within a certain timeframe, then it’s up to the reviewer to decide how long is too long to wait.

    Like

  8. Barb Saffer says:

    I’ve often thought the same thing. Even if a book was published some time ago, a review can generate new interest. I’d think authors/publishers would appreciate that. 😊

    Like

  9. This is such an interesting question, and one I think about a lot. I understand why publishers and authors like reviews right around pub day, because it is more likely to impact sales and being picked up by smaller libraries or booksellers. But I have to imagine they’d like a review at any time as well? But maybe I’m justifying because I’m also behind…

    Like

    • That’s my justification. LOL Though seriously, I do get tired of reading reviews on the same title in rapid succession. For this reason I don’t particularly care for blog tours. The same book is reviewed by a myriad of people, all within the same week – I would rather read reviews on a variety of different books, than read a variety of reviews on one book. Clear as mud?

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  10. If I read a book that was published back in 2002 and I love it, then write a review stating why – does that no longer count? I maintain that it does. I maintain that people who read reviews will be tempted (or not) by a fiction book review regardless of when that book was published. Their only concern is that it is still available to either buy or borrow from their local library.

    I agree a 100 per cent. I don’t hold with books published now should be read and reviewed now. I read books published in the last century, books written 15 years ago. And why not?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carol says:

    Never too late for a review! But I do feel obligated to provide reviews for ARCs as close to pub date as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Carol, you are quite right. This is optimum, but not always absolutely possible.
      Once you get yourself into a hole/backlog, it is almost impossible to get out of it immediately. For instance, if I devoted myself to only the oldest titles on my NetGalley queue of 70 titles, then I would not be reading any of the newer titles on time. If I read the new titles in the month they want them, then I would be completely neglecting the 38 titles that are more than a year old. I try to balance it by reading one older one for every newer one. But that too, depends on other mitigating factors.
      And, that is just NetGalley. I have 58 titles to review for Edelweiss. Others from publishers. It is hard to be fair to everyone and maintain the reading/reviewing for the month the books come out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carol says:

        I ADMIRE your ambitious ARC collection! I had FOUR ARCs close to pub date last month and I panicked! Whenever I HAVE to read something it takes some joy away. I am not in your league at all….I can only imagine the pressure you feel at having a back log. I think you can only do what you can do and I’m sure authors and publishers are grateful for every one of your reviews! I wish you the best in tackling your ARCs this week! I hope you’re a speed reader!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks Carol. It is obvious to me and to everyone else that I have bitten off more than I can chew… I am far from a speed reader. I feel like I’m doing well when I read ten titles per month.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Carol says:

            Yes 10 is a good number…..I read 8-10…..occasionally 12 in a really good month with some a few fast chick lits thrown in the mix. And then all the time it takes to write thoughtful reviews and create posts…:::::sigh:::::: again, I admire you and appreciate your blog and its content! Hoping you have a peaceful productive day!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Your kind words are very much appreciated Carol. ♥

            Liked by 1 person

  12. Shalini says:

    I write reviews when I feel like.. On NetGalley, I try to see to it that I complete most of the reviews for books published that month. On the whole, it all depends if I get the words to write the review…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Rosie Amber says:

    If you consider the money trail then publishers want early reviews as part of their marketing packages. Netgalley will keep approving review requests to increase their own patronage from both reviewers and the ‘paying’ authors.
    Authors will always be grateful of reviews especially if they help highlight their book at any point, especially of it leads to sales.
    As a reader, I like to see a range of reviews and if they are spread over a longer period, they will seem more genuine. I’m quite happy to read books years after they were published.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Great post! As a new book blogger I used to feel so overwhelmed about reading getting my reviews out on time, now I’m far more relaxed about it. I’ve also got a rather large backlog on NetGalley, I daren’t count it, but they keep approving me too. I guess any time is good to do a review, and maybe sometimes it’s better after publication day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes Nicki. I think platforms like NetGalley assume that the reviews for any given book are not all going to come in at once. We are not reading machines after all. We all have many titles to read/review and we can’t do it all at once.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. deborahkehoe says:

    I’m not a professional reviewer by any means, but in my opinion I think a good book is a good book! As a reader, I don’t care when it came out. If I read a review and the book sounds like it’s something I’d like to read then most likely I’ll look for a cheap copy and check out the library, Amazon, etc. I actually appreciate those reviews and recommendations a lot! As someone who also writes book reviews, I read new books, but I also read older titles that I’ve always wanted to get to, or get a recommendation from someone and pick it up! Whatever strikes my mood. With the new releases, I do try to review in a timely manner because I figure that’s what they want, but as a reader. I just want a good book!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. MG WELLS says:

    I like reviewing and find a lot of people do not. Many make excuses too, which is not so kind. An excellent piece. Wishing you many blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I don’t think it’s ever too late to review – and no just because the majority of books that I talk about on the blog are old books! Sometimes if I see loads of reviews of the one book all at time of publication, I gloss over them, but of I was to see a review a few months or even years later, I think I would be more inclined to take a closer look. This is exactly why I don’t take on a lot of review copies – I think I would just miss deadline after deadline!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. CJR The Brit says:

    Personally I don’t think it’s ever too late to leave a review….my tbr is so long it will take years to read them all!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Yes, I think publishers prefer you post your reviews as close to the publication date as possible, but that’s mostly if they gave you an ARC for the book. If I buy a book on my own, then it doesn’t matter one whit how long or soon after it is published to put up a review. For any author who is still alive and getting royalties from book sales, I think that they’d be pleased as punch for any review of any of their books, if there’s even a small possibility that it could generate sales for them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Valid point Davida. You have clarified the difference between books that you purchase or borrow from those you receive as arcs. That being said, we are not reading machines and can only read at our own pace. With 70 outstanding arcs from NetGalley, they must realize that all of my reviews cannot be timely. They still approve me more often than not, so perhaps it matters less to some publishers than others.

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  20. I agree with you. I have such a long backlog 😛 I don’t know if I am going to finish a single one of them on time. :p Nevertheless, getting back to the topic, I think it is the book “review” that should matter, not its timing.
    For ARCs, I try my best to post close to the schedule date, but if I can’t, well, I don’t sweat much.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. celinelingg says:

    Oh I love this. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Lilyfae says:

    Whilst building hype for an upcoming book especially debuts is important (bookshops May not stock if seems no demand) it’s also good to not let books be flash in the pans or zeitgeists, sometimes a review 6,12,18 months after publication may remind of fantastic books that didn’t get the attention or missed out on awards etc.
    I recently started adding a Little Spotlight to my blog each Friday- these are books older than 6 months (I’m aiming for older but the last one I did was a indie publisher and a feminist title for IWD) and I or the children loved but not many ratings on Good Reads.

    I suppose it’s best if there’s a combination of the two, release hype and sustained enjoyment.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. As a reader, I don’t care when the book came out. With so much being published, I probably missed it back in 2002 or 1802 or whenever. LOL. And so a thoughtful review is always applicable.
    As a writer, I LOVE a review because that means you read something I wrote and took your time, time we all don’t have enough of, to write a review of it. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I’m over 200 behind on my Netgalley books. I’m not bothered by the dates anymore. A review is still a review. Besides, if they didnt find that acceptable, why do they keep approving my requests? We dont get paid and it’s supposed to be fun to read, not stressful. Just my two cents!😊💜

    Liked by 4 people

    • Good point Susan. After all, we are supposedly reading for pleasure after all.
      Of my 191 book back-log, 70 of those titles are from NetGalley. You are right – they still approve my requests, so they cannot object that much to late reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Huh, I never really sat down and questioned my acceptance of the “early is best!” conventional wisdom before, but after your thoughtful prompt, I realized that my answers as reader and writer are actually different! As a reader, I still think early is best, because I use reviews to help me decide whether to give a book a try or not, and the later a review comes out, the greater chance that I’ve already heard about the book, made a decision about reading it, or already read it. (So I move on and don’t tead the review.) But as an author, it’s actually a lovely and unexpected surprise when a review comes out long after the initial flurry, because (unless you’re one of the handful of bestsellers everyone has heard about) a new review prompts a second wave of reader discovery. So, I guess I hope you’ll stick with reviewing what you feel like reading, so it’s still a pleasure, not a deadline!

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Reviewerlady says:

    It’s never too late to leave a review, but I can understand that the publishers offer FREE arc’s in order to get the book out there and noticed on and before publication day and the more online chatter there is about their novels, the more chance of other readers purchasing. I work really hard to keep my list up-to-date.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Initial buzz is optimum that’s true. Although I personally have a large backlog, I very much admire those bloggers who are up to date with their reviewing. I read over 100 titles per year and DO TRY to keep up – it is just that I’m so weak when offered another title by an author I like, or a blurb that sounds intriguing. I often wonder where up-to-date bloggers get their strength and their will power.

      Liked by 2 people

  27. Cathy MacAulay-Spencer says:

    A friend of mine used to save the book review section of the Globe and Mail for me. I stacked them in the magazine rack at the cottage for rainy Sunday afternoons. They were at least 6 months old, possibly 2 years before I got to them. The books are easily available at the library or at yard sales. A book review is never too late.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. I’m with you and I think many authors would agree. However, I’m certain they really like and need the buzz around release dates so if there are a sufficient number of them done at that time, it’s all good. I don’t even want to talk about my backlog😬

    Great topic!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Tari Hann says:

    I don’t think it’s ever too late to review. BTW you’ve made me feel a lot better about the 20+ that I’m behind at NetGalley 😉 hehe. I would think that reviews being scattered out would kind of be a good thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree Tari. Instead of all the book ‘BUZZ’ coming out all at once, the buzz is spread out over time. Thanks so much for contributing to this discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tari Hann says:

        You’re welcome! As someone who’s had reviews taken down by Amazon, I’m kinda careful about that. I also try to pace my verified vs non verified reviews so they don’t get weird on me again 😉 I like hearing the buzz at different times too as a reader, makes me reinforced about wanting a book if I hear later that they still like it.

        Liked by 1 person

  30. Zoe says:

    I completely agree.. I’m so far behind publication reviews it’s unreal. But, like you, it’s never too late to write a review in my eyes. A good review is a welcomed at anytime, surely?

    Such a great post!

    Liked by 2 people

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