Evidence arises, if such were needed, to suggest that a review should be about the book, and nothing more.
To make myself perfectly clear, I think both Pat and Simon Spanton have some good points to make in that exchange (though I side more with Spanton’s definition of hype, because it is the one that most closely matches my experience).
However, the echo-chamber chorus in the comments who seem unable to actually detect the nuances of the argument beyond “hey, that editor guy just disagreed with a blogger we like, booo” is enough to make me want to headbutt a desk. So, for clarification:
Sending out advance review copies of a book and then reporting on the positive ones is not hype. It is marketing of the old school, merely done at a more rapid rate.
Hype is hard for people to spot because it’s a part of their daily diet; anyone who buys a tabloid newspaper or magazine, or who watches commercial television, invites hype into their lives on a four-times-hourly basis. This is a wood-for-the-trees issue.
As someone who sees it from both sides, at least as far as the music industry is concerned (and no one does hype like the music industry), let me tell you what hype is: hype is tabloid stories about the artist falling out of a nightclub drunk with white dust under their nose; hype is endless puff pieces in the mainstream media where the artist is portrayed as godlike yet still accessible; hype is, in other words, promotional material for an item THAT HAS NO CONNECTION TO THE ITEM ITSELF AND EXISTS ONLY TO REPEAT THE ARTISTS NAME AD NAUSEUM.
The irony of people piping up with comments along the lines of “yeah, well, by getting this email exchange posted, Spanton’s just extending the book’s time in the spotlight” is palpable. Right on, guys – if he was doing that, the last thing you’d want to do was, oh, I don’t know, chime in on the debate yourself? Wouldn’t want to fuel that corporate hype machine any, would you? Now, what time does Big Brother start?
[ Full disclosure – Richard Morgan is a client, and I haven’t yet read The Steel Remains. My opinions expressed here are my own, and do not represent the opinions of any of my clients, past present or future. ]