I read last night on Boing Boing, my favorite blog, that one of Amazon.com's most prolific customer reviewers, Kevin Killian, is publishing a selection of his best reviews in book form. The publisher's description is certainly intriguing:
Selections from the 1,000+ reviews that Killian has written for books, movies, and everyday products on Amazon.com. Subversive and delightful modifiations to a pervasive online art form. Includes an author's introduction and an editor's introduction.
I did a people search on Amazon.com and found Kevin's profile. As of today, Kevin is Top 500 Reviewer on Amazon.com with over 1500 reviews, a reviewer rank of 119, and over 6,000 helpful votes from other Amazon.com users. Wow!
It's fascinating to see user-generated content entering the mainstream in this fashion. Trust me, I'm not blowing this out of proportion just yet. At best, Killian's book is consumer esoterica for the near to medium term. I don't expect volume 2 or any imitators anytime soon. But I take this news as yet another sign of the shift in attitude toward consumer-generated content. The fact that a publisher got on board is a sign. In all fairness, Hooke Press is a very small niche publisher, but they've chosen to publish reviews alongside poetry! Telling comparison. In addition, this news says at least a little something about how UGC creators feel about their contributions. Sure, we all know that there are social motivations to having a personal website, a well-maintained Flickr account, or a fresh blog. Clearly, Kevin is among the elite of UGC creators, having invested at least hundreds of hours in sharing his opinions with fellow Amazon.com customers. It seems logical to me that he would want to leverage his contributions in another format and that he would think his reviews worthy of doing so.
Per Andrew's note in the Boing Boing post, we'll see if Amazon hassles Kevin over the publishing rights to his reviews. I hope not. Kevin is pushing the medium in a new direction, and I wish him well!