A couple of years ago, I wrote a positive review, one where I wholeheartedly recommended the book. Still, I pointed out my one problem with the story as a sort of warning to any reader who might get turned off by it. The next day, the author responded to my issue by dismissing it and even almost mocking it. I was at first a bit surprised that the author would bother reading my review and then slightly annoyed. I had stated my opinion but to be ridiculed by the author for it seemed a bit harsh.
In recent months, I've seen this happening in a number of places. Authors can now be found quite easily on the internet. They write about upcoming works, keep up-to-date blogs and websites, and are very involved in the internet publicity of the book. Along with this, though, come situations like the one described above: authors find reviews of their books and respond to them. Sometimes graciously, sometimes less so.
Immediate feedback is a general internet trait, but when it comes to writing, it seems to take on a life of its own. Talk of "interactive literature" (where readers can respond as the author writes the story) and mass-reader reviews make it much easier for the author to see reader responses (sometimes positive, sometimes not). At the same time, it makes it much easier for authors to respond. An author can immediately try to defend his/her work and "fix" the image or correct the interpretation. I once saw an author try to explain that her book was not part of the genre the reviewer assumed it to be, was not about what the reviewer felt and the reviewer had, in fact, missed the point. Which, of course, raises the question: How can a reader who interpreted something differently than the author intended be missing the point? It is still a fault on the side of the author.
But author feedback brings many good things too. Just as it's incredible to read authors' letters and notes on a manuscript in order to further understand their writing, it's helpful to see them blog and describe how they see their books. It's adds another level of understanding, the same way a biography might. Author responses give the impression that they really care what people think and that they read each and every opinion, meaning that they might possibly learn from the less-than-favorable opinions.