So, over here at Tor.com, there are at this writing 19 reviews and one interview on display on the first page. Three of those 19 reviews are for Baen books; the rest by Publishers Divers.
The three Baen books under review are: Cauldron of Ghosts, by Weber and Flint, The Sea Without a Shore, by David Drake, and Carousel Sun, by Sharon Lee.
There’s a reason I’m telling you this.
Of the three Baen books reviewed, two are held up and mocked for their covers, before the review is even engaged. Full disclosure: One of those is Carousel Sun, which has a rooster on the cover. Which is apparently hilarious. Especially since, yanno, there’s a rooster in the book. The other book so mocked is Cauldron of Ghosts. David Drake’s book, I am actually relieved to report, received a respectful and affectionate review, with no mention of the cover.
Now, ‘way back before the rocks cooled, I reviewed professionally. And what I reviewed was the stuff between the covers — the story arc, the characters, the structure, the theme. The cover was understood to be a sales piece, and I, the reviewer, was understood not to be an artist, an art reviewer, or an art director. The only time I might mention the cover would be to point out that the author’s name was spelled wrong.
While I do very much understand that Baen covers are considered highly mockable in the wider SF community, I question that mocking when it appears on the site of a competitor, and when the only two covers mentioned at all are Baen covers. This strikes me as dishonest at best, and agenda-driven at worst.
Back in the day, had I suddenly made it my mandate to include cover art in my reviews, I would have reviewed all the covers, in order to provide my readers with a balanced opinion of all the books. Because that was, after all, my job.