I just read Read Roger's latest post called Let's Play 'peel the label'. In it, he discusses the pros and cons of reviewing. Do reviewers have biases (good or bad) when it comes to authors. Do new authors have trouble getting reviewed, or positively reviewed? Do you have to have a big name--be established--to get good reviews? Are reviewers more lenient with established "bestselling" authors? I encourage you to read his post for yourself. Anyway, he essentially asks "Blind reviewing could certainly shake things up, though. How would publishing would look if reviewing was done that way?"
It's an interesting question. Do I base my opinions of a book on the author's name...or on the quality of the work. Well, I can only answer for myself. As a reader-reviewer-blogger, I read a lot. I read big names; I read first-time novelists. In fact, I typically go out of my way to seek out first-time novelists. I like 'discovering' new authors, and new-to-me authors. I remember reading Stephenie Meyer before she became a 'bestselling' author and ever-so-popular. I certainly didn't know anything about her when Twilight first came out. (Though now I can't remember if I read it before its release date or not....) It became a word-of-mouth phenomenon. Reading a book by an author I know nothing about is essentially reading it blind in my opinion. I neither love, like, dislike, or hate the author. It is up to the text--and the text alone--to make me a believer. What are my expectations going into a new book? My expectations may be high or low. But I go into it with an open mind. I don't read with an agenda and ask "What can I hate about this one?" (I don't really know anyone who does.)
How important is the name? It doesn't matter much to me. True, I have my favorites. But if and when they disappoint, I'll blog honestly just the same. Quality writing is essentially what I'm looking for no matter whose name is attached. There are many, many established authors out there whose work I just don't appreciate despite all their acclaim. Of course, EVERYTHING when it comes to reviews is always subjective.
This may get into the blogger vs. reviewer thing again...simply because of space. A blogger has unlimited space to review books. A journal, magazine, newspaper, etc. does not have unlimited space. They simply can't review everything. They have to make choices all the time about what books will get reviewed, and which ones won't. Bloggers have their own decisions to make. They can't read and review every book either. (Though the more obsessed ones may try.)