(NEW YORK)— In response to policy changes announced this week by Goodreads to combat ‘review bombing’ on the literary review site, PEN America issued the comment below from CEO Suzanne Nossel:

Nossel said: “We are gratified that Goodreads has taken steps to implement one of the crucial recommendations in our recent Booklash report, aimed at preventing reviewers who may not even have read a book from waging online campaigns to sink it.  As a prominent platform for book discovery, Goodreads has an obligation to defend the freedom to read and prevent practices on its platform that detract from reasoned literary discourse and pave the way for books to be disappeared before their authors and ideas even get a hearing.”

The PEN America report,  Booklash: Literary Freedom, Online Outrage, and the Language of Harm, warned that social media blowback and societal outrage are imposing new moral litmus tests on books and authors, chilling literary expression and fueling a dangerous trend of self-censorship that is shrinking writers’ creative freedom and imagination.

Among its key recommendations, the report urged Goodreads to implement new protocols to ensure reviewers have read the book in question before posting a review and to prevent tactics like “review-bombing,” the online practice of users giving negative reviews to harm sales of a book.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057