Elizabeth Baines would prefer to have bad reviews of her books rather than no reviews at all:
I'd rather have a negative review and my book be thus a visible part of literary debate than have it buried in silence. Books like mine - short stories, newish independent press - don't get reviews easily in the newspapers. . .or indeed as easily on much of the web, as those hyped by big publishers. A bad review from [a blog] would at least have made more people aware of its existence than none. . . .
It has been my practice to give negative reviews (really negative reviews) only to books whose authors can certainly withstand criticism, whether in print or in the blogosphere (authors such as Ian McEwan or Steve Erickson), or when a larger point can be made beyond simply registering a critical opinion of a particular book or author, especially if the book is not likely to gain a wide audience, anyway, or if the author is in a vulnerable state of his/her career (at the beginning, lagging in mid-career, on the verge of being forgotten,etc.). I read (or start to read and don't finish) many books that I do not discuss on this blog, precisely because to give them negative reviews just for the sake of announcing I didn't like them doesn't seem very productive and because sometimes I don't have anything useful to say except "this book didn't hold my attention" or "I liked it!."
However, Elizabeth's comment makes me wonder if it wouldn't be more helpful to unknown or midlist and small press writers (whose cause I generally support, my opinion of individual books notwithstanding) to mention their books, even if it meant passing a negative judgment or just noting I had read a particular book and offering a brief assessment. If a significant proportion of writers and aspiring writers agreed with Elizabeth that making "more people aware of" their work would be better than silence, I would be willing to take note of their books, along with some expression of my opinion.
Do you agree with her?