Friday, July 31, 2009

Truth in Book Advertising

The chat this week on several book blogs has been about where we get most of our books, and whether getting a book as a freebie influences what we say about a book in our review. Marie at Boston Bibliophile has a great post on the subject. I urge you to read it. The comments that follow her post are equally thought provoking. So,to follow the trail, and to assure my readers that I'm not giving positive reviews just because I got the book for free, here's a breakdown of where/how I acquired the books I've reviewed since I started this blog: Since April, I've reviewed 67 books. Of those 42% were from my personal library --I either owned them, bought them, or inherited them. They physically reside with me. 38% came from public libraries. The remaining 19% were freebies--i.e., they were Advanced Review copies, galley proofs, or Early Review copies from LT's program. Anyone who has looked at my reviews here or on LT, knows that I am not afraid to say 'this book is not for me!' and in a couple of cases I've really panned a book I thought wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. So authors and publishers who send me their books to review, (and who have taken the time to investigate my reviews) will know that I don't sugar coat things. I even said I was disappointed in one that won the Pulitzer! I have decided in the future to alter my reviewing policies a bit.
  • First of all, I'm going to be more selective about books that I take to review...if it looks like something I know I won't enjoy, or have serious doubts about, or is a genre I don't normally read, then it's not be fair to the author to have me as a reviewer.
  • I'll only be accepting what I can expect to review within a month of receiving it. I'd love to say within a week, but often the books don't show up when you think they will, and then suddenly, 10 arrive in one week. I feel I have an obligation to do a fair review when I accept a book, and fairness includes timeliness. If my schedule is clogging up, I'm always up-front with the author or publisher about when I expect to be able to get a review done.
  • Although I usually mention it, I'm going to be vigilant about making sure my review includes information about the source of the book.
  • I'm also going to include a recommendation about whether I'd spend my own money on this book if I'm reviewing a freebie.
  • I'm only doing giveaways once a month. If too many others are already sponsoring the same contest, I'm going to pass. They are a lot of work for the blogger (time spent running contests is time NOT spent reading) and the publisher gets a whole lot of free publicity from blog contests, so my being more selective isn't going to hurt anybody.
Book blogging is fun. Reviewing books is fun. Receiving 'free' books is wonderful for all of us. But they're not 'free'--the average 300-500 page book takes about 10-12 hours to read, and about another hour to draft, edit and post a review. While I get to read books I might not have had the funds to buy, or never have heard of, the author and publisher get some feedback and publicity. Honest book bloggers just don't guarantee the publicity will always be totally positive.


  1. gosh...just wandered in here, but golly, it looks sort of familiar for some

    Yes, I followed that discussion as well. But I have not listed how recent books came into my hands for several reason, not least of which is I tend to forget. A book arrives and sits, waiting to be entered into Library Thing before it ventures into the TBR pile...and sometimes by the time that I do, I am not sure if I won it or received it from a SA request of bought it used online.

    But quite honestly, it makes no difference at all to me. I have said it on my own blog before, but I approach every review as if I am telling a friend whether to buy this book or not. And I take that obligation very seriously no matter where the book came from.

  2. Caite...

    Thanks for the comment. I love your philosophy of approaching "every review as if I'm telling a friend whether to buy this book or not." What a terrific way to think about it.

    I too found I was losing track of where books came from (the library books only get entered into LT when I read them, so I can count them for a challenge, and/or post the review). The books we purchase get entered immediately so we can track that we've already ordered and/or physically bought them.

    It was the ARCs and contests I was losing track of, so I have a simple spreadsheet, and when I request an ARC or enter a giveaway I note the title, the date and the source. Then I can cross them off as received. I was starting to request things twice, and that was getting too confusing.

    But like I said in the OP, I think being a bit pickier about what I ask for will save me (and publishers and authors) a lot of grief in the end.

    We're off for one of those rare events-- a Beach Day in Maine. I have a great thriller to keep me company while grandchild plays in the sand.

  3. I think that givng a book a good review purely because it was an advance copy that you received for free not only does the future readers of the book an injustice, but the author as well. Many authors read a large portion of their reviews and take to heart the contructive critisism that they receive. If they find several people thought the character lacked development, the best for the author to find out is to put it in your reviews. Perhaps they will work on that aspect and their next attemp will be amazing.

    Good reviews done for the wrong reason also cause people to go spend their hard earned money on something they were told is good only to find out otherwise. Imagine if your friend told you about an awesome steak house and you tried it only to find that the food was subpar. I would probably be a bit upset with that person. The same is true for books.

  4. Terrific post! I just entered the book review world and have found all the "free books" a little addictive, but I'm realizing quickly I need to be more selective in the review books I sign on for. 24 books in 2 weeks is a bit much for a mom of a 2yo, especially when some of those books really don't appeal to me.

  5. you had me until the word


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