A Review of Field Guide Reviews

The following is as close to a rant as you’ll hear from me.

I’m about to embark on field guide reviews. After deciding to expand into other nature fields, I have to decide on field guides for the various topics. With the lousy weather and a nasty bug I caught in January, I’ve had time to review a few. I also checked out online reviews and had the same feeling I’ve had for years.

Why don’t reviewers use the guides before reviewing them? And show a few example pages?

I know publishers send out book samples to bloggers and other groups in hopes they’ll sell additional copies. So maybe the reviewers have to review the guide before a certain date to catch the “wave” and “excitement” of the book hitting the market.

But what good is a review of A Guide to Borneo without the reviewer using the guide in Borneo? Or ever even visited Borneo? I haven’t figured that out yet.

Of course there are good reviewers like Donna on 10,000 Birds, but why do most reviews show the cover, the index, and a page or two? Show us examples of the species covered in the guide so we can see if it fits our criteria?

And don’t even get me going on Amazon reviews. Such as “I just received the guide and it looks great, 5 stars.” The people that take the time to analyze the guide are usually lambasted for pointing out what they think of the guide. Too many people wanting pretty pictures I guess.


“I just received my copy and and from the outward appearance without opening it, I’ll give it 5 stars.”

So if you want me to buy your field guide, show the cover plus enough examples of species coverage so I can decide if it warrants my attention, let alone money.

End of rant.

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