How Amazon and Goodreads are changing literary criticism

The rise of the amateur critic has also seen changes in the nature of contemporary criticism. Murray has detected a new mode of online critique that privileges the emotional responses of the reader. 'Professional literary criticism often downplays the emotional response readers have to a novel. Yet emotion is front and centre in a lot of these amateur reviews ... that's something to really enjoy about reading them.'


According to Murray, much of the content posted on review websites becomes data that corporations can then sell to third parties for advertising purposes. 'When you put up all the members of your book club, their preferences and what is in their library ... that is interesting data that becomes commercially valuable to sell on to marketers or publicists.’


Murray’s response harks back to Orwell, but this time from Nineteen Eighty-Four: ‘You’re collecting the books, but your response to those books is also being collected.'