Warning: one use of the f-word follows because the sentence just didn't convey what I was going for without it.
When I first heard that Publishers Weekly was going to review self-published books I felt a moment of elation. I love the Pubishers Weekly magazine even though my local Borders refuses to stock it for me--although that is a whole 'nother story. The mag gives a snap shot of what is going on in some facets of the publishing world, and covers some of the new releases coming out. I thought this announcement meant they would review self-published books side by side with mainstream books of similar literary (or other) merit--the one thing that would make me love their mag even more. On the up side my feeling that I have become a miserable cynic is apparently seriously wide of the mark. I am still some kind of hopelessly naive optimist who tends to assume the best. I was, of course, wrong.
Like all of the other pay-for-a-ghettoised-review vendors, Publishers Weekly does not want your self-published book, and will not give you a review of the same quality they give to other books. They will however take your money to provide a bastardised version of it. So they are "accepting" self-published books for review to the extent that they are charging more ($149 versus nothing) to provide less (a listing you write for them in a "quarterly supplement" rather than their best selling magazine). Oh and the listing in this supplement will not actually include a review, just a "brief description" presumably provided by the author. Only 25 of the unspecified number of books listed in a supplement will get a review. They then have the temerity to call the less-for-more treatment "PW Select".
They write: "We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy." That is presumably their attempt to seize the moral high grown and try to spin the fact that they are doing the one thing worse than charging for a review. They are charging most of the authors $149 (plus book and P&P) and then not even giving them a fucking review. I am going to miss reading Publishers Weekly, but after this fiasco it just wouldn't be the same. I hope self-publishers will not flock to the fleecing, but I suspect plenty of them will.