Reviews of the future?

from Press News, posted 09/26/2011 - 10:50

In case you haven’t noticed, Amazon is steadily taking over the publishing world (not alone, mind you – a three-way carve up with Google and Apple could well happen). As a small academic press, we can get nervous about this. At the same time, however, in all sorts of small ways Amazon is a force for positive change – like, for example, in the case of book reviews.

Generally, academic journals do take their time to publish a book review – a year is not unusual. Increasingly, then, readers are making use of alternative advice, not least in the reviews posted on

For instance, no review of Cambodians and Their Doctors has yet been published in an academic journal. But the following review on Amazon – titled ‘An excellent resource for newcomers to the Cambodian Health System’ – appeared in July:

This extensive, fully referenced work provides an authoritative account of the history of the health care system in Cambodia from the French Indo-China period through independence, the ravages of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot and the post KR recovery. It describes and explains the present situation in the country including doctors, nurses, midwives and traditional healers. Packed with information, it is easier to use as a reference work or for reading relevant chapters rather than as a narrative to be followed chronologically in detail. The cost reflects the fact that it is an academic work but is fully justified by the quality and upto date nature of the material it contains. I would recommend it to any serious professional who wishes to understand the basis on which the present health care system is founded with its inherent flaws, limitations and corruption. Could be a good investment.

As you can see, the book was rated four stars out of a possible five.

With fewer academic journals publishing reviews than before, could this be the shape of the future?


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