A theme dear to the heart of ACHUKAbooks!
James Bridle, writing in The Observer:
The book world still retains a base prejudice against digital, and especially digital-only works. A print publication remains the basic requirement for newspaper reviews, journals and major prize entries, despite the vast range of work available online and in ebooks. The whiff of vanity publishing still clings to independent publishing and the digital-only text. In the Victorian era, book-first works weren't considered serious: you were a "proper writer" if your work first received serial publication in a newspaper or magazine. That was the mark of editorial quality. As books became both more widely affordable and better produced, the focus shifted to hardbacks and paperbacks - and has remained there. Even paperbacks are often turned down for review: much hardback publication is still essentially in order to receive media notice to publicise the cheaper edition.
Lines will always be drawn. Many would argue that print reviews are less important now, and digital editions are better suited to online circulation, easily linked and discussed by communities of interest which don't need the imprimatur of vaunted critics. There are practical difficulties too, around formats and hardware. But newspaper readers and followers of literary prizes will be missing out if these works continue to fall outside their remit.