Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Beware of Book Blurbs

The Million: “Blurb is a funny sounding word. It’s phonetically unappealing, beginning and ending with unattractive voiced bilabial stops, and its definition—an advertisement or announcement, especially a laudatory one—carries some of the same meaning as another unattractive word, blubber, which evokes excess in its dual definition as both an expostulation of unrestrained emotion as well as excess fat. For these reasons alone, any sensible person should beware of blurbs…Few writers decline to blurb a book since, more often than not, they have been personally appealed to by the author, or the author’s editor or agent (both of whom they are likely to know). More importantly, the blurber’s name will appear on the book in conjunction with the author and other blurbers, so the blurb is as much an advertisement for the blurber as it is an endorsement of the book…For better or worse, blurbs are here to stay. But blurbers who follow the Shteyngartian operating principle (“no hyperbole can be hyperbolic enough”) risk exposing themselves to accusations of lack of critical discernment, or integrity, or both. And, because most blurbs emblazoned on a book’s front and back cover (or on Amazon) tend to have, at best, a tenuous relation to the reality of the text, the final watchword for readers who turn to them when considering a purchase should be: caveat emptor.”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.