Lit Hub, the website created in 2015 by Grove Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin and two partners to bring together “smart, engaged, entertaining writing about all things books,” has just re-launched their Book Marks section (not to be confused with the magazine Book Marks, which is still in print, but no longer updating its online book review aggregator).
When it debuted six months ago, Book Marks was tagged the “publishing equivalent of Rotten Tomatoes,” compiling reviews from over 70 consumer sources and assigning a letter grade to any book that got reviewed three times or more.
After taking criticism for the letter grades, the site has switched to a four-tiered system that characterizes reviews as Rave, Positive, Mixed, or Pan, explaining that the letters “did not convey the nuance of the reviews, and a book with a dozen middling reviews could wind up with the same grade as a book with ten raves and two pans. The grades also appeared to be a subjective assessment by Literary Hub, rather than cumulative measure of reviewer opinion.”
As Rotten Tomatoes itself demonstrates, assigning values is not a science and the Book Mark‘s new system still has some problems. For instance, Zadie Smith’s Swing Time is ranked as positive with 41 reviews, a mix of rave, positive and mixed reviews as well as single pan (for the curious, that one comes from The Millions and some might consider it more mixed than a pan). On the other hand, Dava Sobel’s The Glass Universe is ranked as a rave with only 3 reviews, two raves and one positive.
Nevertheless, Book Marks is useful for many things, such as staying up to speed on titles getting review coverage, through its sections on new books, the most talked about books, the best reviewed books, the most reviewed books, and breakdowns by category (nine for fiction, 19 nonfiction).
It is also a quick way to learn more about specific titles, through review excerpts (found by clicking on each book cover) and links to the full reviews.
We have added Book Marks to our links at the right of the site, under “Consumer Media, Book Coverage.”