LitHub’s Book Marks: aggregating book reviews

LitHub’s Book Marks: aggregating book reviews

With literally millions of e-books available to us, and on average more than a thousand books a day added to the USA Kindle store, the biggest challenging facing many of us as Kindleers is deciding which books to read.

There have been a lot of attempts to help people with that (I even have a category for Discovery on this blog), and Literary Hub (LitHub) has just introduced a new one called “Book Marks”.

LitHub’s Book Marks

In this

press release

they analogize it to the very popular movie/TV review site


…so, Rotten “Tome-matoes”, perhaps? 😉

I don’t tend to use RottenTomatoes, although I think it’s a good site and I’m usually aware of scores. I’m probably more influenced by the simple summary on Fandango (I tend to use that to check movie times).

Both RottenTomatoes and Fandango give two scores: an aggregate of “professional” reviews and an aggregate of viewer scores.

When I’m picking a movie to see with my Significant Other, I’m probably more influenced by the viewer score. If critics say, “Must go!” and viewers say, “So-so”, my guess tends to be that it is perhaps more technically interesting than viscerally interesting, which may not be as successful for us.

I also like the less well-known

MRQE (Movie Review Query Engine)

I mention all that to show that I have some perspective on review aggregating sites.

I’ve looked at Book Marks.

At this point, it generally wouldn’t be helpful for me.

That may change…but there seem to be very few books, and they appear only to be the current “frontlist” (recently issue popular mainstream titles). The fantasy category, for example, appears to have four titles:

  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  • Arcadia by Iain Pears
  • The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery
  • Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick Dewitt

Their grades range from B to A+.

I’d love to compare what I thought about the book to their average…but I haven’t found a book at the site yet that I’ve read.

I checked their A rated one, A Gathering of Shadows.

There were excerpts from reviews (including Entertainment Weekly…I’ve been a subscriber for years). That was nice.

You could comment on the book, which will start getting some reader impressions eventually.

There were links to the reviews, so you could read the whole thing…again, that’s a nice feature.

However, their A grade was based on a total of…four reviews.

Now, it’s understandable that there aren’t very many books when they’ve only been live for about a week.

That shouldn’t, though, affect the number of reviews. The book came out in February, I believe…those professional reviewers should have done reviews by now (if they were going to do that).

That’s not a very big data set.

Searching produced a lot of false negatives. Putting in “Mary Roach”, for example, did find me Grunt…but also 17 books not by that author.

The categories were interesting, and did indicate a “literati” mindset…no category, for “science fiction”, but one for “speculative”. That likely would mean that some more casual readers wouldn’t find it.

There were categories for New Books and Hottest Books.

I didn’t see much way to work with the results… wanted to sort them by the lowest to highest grade, and didn’t see a way to do that. I only saw a couple lower than a B- (and C was as low as I saw).

The site looked reasonably professional in terms of graphic design.

The biggest negative for me was not having older books. I think, like a lot of serious readers, I’m not always (or even primarily) reading frontlist books.

I’d suggest you go ahead and take a look at it and see what you think. You may find it more useful (perhaps especially for gifts, but maybe not). I plan to check back in on it in maybe a month to see how it’s grown.

What I would prefer, rather than a RottenTomatoes, is a site like (owned by Amazon). I want stats about books…I want to do know when it was released, who the editor was, who the cover artist was, and so on. Amazon also owns GoodReads, and they come close to that…but they recently shutdown Shelfari (if you try to go there, it redirects you to Good Reads), which was even more valuable to me in that it included elements of the book (like characters and places).

I do applaud LitHub for trying something new!

If you do go and want to tell me and my readers what you think, feel free to do so by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



6 Responses to “LitHub’s Book Marks: aggregating book reviews”

  1. Man in the Middle Says:

    Not seeing the point of Book Marks. Like Goodreads, it’s glossy, but appears to add no value to my reading experience.

    If I’m looking for a review of a book available on Amazon, I prefer just reading the Amazon reviews.

    As you noted, there isn’t much content at Book Marks yet. The list of categories doesn’t even include Science Fiction, which is mostly what I choose to read.

    There was a link to the 10 essential Spanish language books, which somehow omitted Don Quixote, the best-known and most-regarded of all Spanish language books. Oh, and the Spanish language books listed were not in Spanish, but rather English translations. I’m currently reading Asimov’s “Yo, Robot”, so Amazon is offering me Spanish language books too, except at least Amazon’s are written in Spanish.

  2. Vicki Jenkins Says:

    Hi there ILMK author-BC. I have been a long-time reader of yours and want to ask you about my latest Amazon Prime issue. Please let me know where I might address this question. Thank you. Vicki

  3. Allie D. Says:

    I love imdb, find it both useful and entertaining… I very much wish there was something with a similar format for books, but I can’t see it happening.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Allie!

      IMDb was great before Amazon bought it…and it still is. 🙂 It’s a great example of what can be Amazon’s light hand when they take over a successful enterprise.

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