Review Blurbs

So, random thought for today, but have you ever considered how differently review-blurbs are treated for books than they are for any other medium?

You might never have thought of this one, but let me give you an example. I just finished yesterday Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan, which is a great book. I enjoyed it quite a bit and lost some sleep to finishing it. But there was something I couldn’t help but notice. Displayed on the cover is a blurb from Brandon Sanderson that says “Just plain awesome.” in large, bold letters. Brandon’s name is also large and bold. But under that, in much, much smaller print?

“On Promise of Blood.” Which is the first book this author wrote, which came out in 2013.

This … bugged me the more I thought about it. Which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t because the book wasn’t great. Honestly, Wrath of Empire and its prior, Sins of Empire, are better than the first series that the quote was actually touching on. But it got me thinking: Where else would someone be “allowed” to use a blurb for a completely different product and get away with it? Why do books get a pass?

And the more I thought about it, the less sense it made. Movies, for example, will put blurbs on their posters and in their ads, but they’re always for that movie. No one sees a trailer for a movie that just came out bragging “Five out of five stars” except there’s a small subprint revealing that review to be for the last movie the director made. The closest we get is “from the director/writer/producer of …” which is, personally, a lot less misleading than taking a review blurb from a work written years ago and plastering it on the cover of a new book.

Games? Same thing. You’ll see blurbs about “this is the sequel to the hit …” or even blurbs with preview text from industry folks … but always about the game on hand. You’re not going to pick up a copy of Street Fighter V for instance, and find a rating review on the cover from Street Fighter IV.

But books love to do this. And for some reason it’s just fine to do that. We just kind of roll with it. But it feels … misleading, honestly.

For example, I’ve picked up books before that have the first few pages dedicated to blurbs about how great a book is … but upon closer reflection, they’re all review blurbs from other books the author has written. Sands,Wrath of Empire has nine blurbs on its front and back. But none of them are about Wrath of Empire. They’re all about his first series from several years ago.

Now, the marketing appeal behind this is clear: To show that other stuff the author has written has been well-received. That’s understandable. But then, where’s the formula on this that makes it not okay for any other form of entertainment, but okay for books?

I don’t have an answer. To be honest, I’d never really given it much consideration until a few days ago when I noticed that the cover blurb on all of McClellan’s books was this same cover blurb from six years ago. I’ve always known that most cover blurbs on books weren’t usually about the book in question, because I vaguely recall learning to ignore them in sixth or seventh grade, but it wasn’t until I saw the repetition on Wrath that it hit me that books get away with this when no one else does, and I’m not really sure why.

Or maybe it’s not okay? What do you guys think? Have you ever noticed this before?

Again, I can’t help but be reminded of other strange differences between books and other entertainment mediums I’ve talked about on here before, like how Indie work is celebrated in movies, games, music, and other forms of entertainment but downplayed or outright attacked in literature. If a movie or game tried to throw a favorable cover quote on their box that was from a game six years ago, you can almost guarantee they’d be skewered in some fashion by gaming media. You just don’t do that. It’s misleading.

But books do. It’s kind of weird.


One thought on “Review Blurbs

  1. Reviews of previous works are only relevant when they were written by the same person. Books are perhaps the only entertainment medium where the consumers keep track of who the writer was. Can a fan of Marvel movies name the writers on them? Can a Britney Spears fan name the writers of any of her songs? Who even “wrote” “World of Warcraft”?

    At least, that’s my ad-hoc rationalization for it.

    Liked by 1 person

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