To Blurb or Not to Blurb

William Leith defends endorsements
By Victoria Floethe,  Newser User
Posted Sep 24, 2008 3:40 PM CDT
5th arrondissement. Shakespeare & Co. English bookshop.    (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – Despite a reputation for being over the top, book blurbs are more meaningful than not, writes William Leith in the Guardian. The blurber, as a rule, cannot expect endorsement in return, but he "is flattered to be asked, and wants to score a tiny ad for himself on the blurbee's book." So the book must be worthy, not embarrassing. 

That authors get their friends to blurb makes author Alexander Waugh view the transaction as  "like being asked to be a god-parent." But Leith argues that reputation outweighs the karmic possibilities: "You're asking somebody who is probably busy, and possibly even a rival, to do some work on your behalf, for nothing in return." Leith concludes, "I don't think many people want to be blamed by readers for making them read bad books."