This is a review of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail, by Andrew Skurka, published by National Geographic. I don’t do many book reviews. I have uploaded close to 700 posts and pages to this site and I think there are only 5 or 6 book reviews.
There was a time when book reviews were the domain of newspapers and magazines with full time writers who reviewed books for their readership. The purpose of the reviews was to recommend good books and to warn readers about the poor ones, while at the same time providing feedback to the author.
Today this has changed. Retail websites, especially Amazon, allow their customers to post reviews and then the website calculates an overall rating base on customer feedback (i.e. 4.2 out of 5). Unfortunately on these websites, it is the rare reviewer who has any stated qualifications to provide a book review of value or worthy of consideration.
The other thing that has changed is the blogs (like this one) that post book reviews. How this usually works, is the publisher or author offers a free book in exchange for a review. There is no requirement for a positive review, but in my opinion a free item in exchange for a review makes an objective review very difficult for most people; although there are some folks who are completely truthful in their reviews.
Last month I received an email that National Geographic was looking to provide advance copies of The Ultimate Hiker’s Guide to some bloggers in exchange for a review and would I be interested. Well, I don’t do quid pro quo. So I wasn’t interested in a free advance copy. The book won’t be available until March 7th. However, I was planning on purchasing the book, having read the first edition several years ago. Based of this offer for a review, I was able to purchase a copy in advance, and I paid the full retail price. So let’s get on with the review.