Marginal Revolution has an interesting discussion of the role of newspaper book reviews. Several people say they just want “the bottom line — buy it, read it, skip it, or burn it.”
Why would you want that? Why would you want to abdicate your own judgment to someone else’s? (“Oh, the book reviewer said I should read this one, guess I’d better buy it. But that one I’m supposed to skip, even though it sounds interesting.”)
All I care about is getting some idea what the book is like. I’ve known a lot of reviewers, and there are very few whose opinions I have a compelling need to know.