Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Reviewers in a Dither

Twitter and Facebook and writing loops have been bloated with the FTC ruling that would require book reviewers to acknowledge they received the book gratis.

So . . . what's the big deal?

First, don't you think most people suspect that there are a certain amount of books out there given to influencers who might help publishers gain sales?

Second, there's no guarantee the review will be a good one if, in the opinion of the reviewer, the book stinks.

Third, I have to wonder how many people have actually bought a book based on a review. I've bought several books on word-of-mouth, which I suppose a review essentially is, but I've never bought one because I read a review that extolled its virtues. Not once.

Fourth, if you buy books based on reviews, does it really make a difference to you where the reviewer obtained the book?

To me, this is much hoopla over nada. I'm just sayin'.

CR: Joseph Finder's Extraordinary Powers

It's all better with friends.


  1. First of all, I think it's obvious (or should be) that ARCs and review copies get sent out gratis? Think movie critics pay for tickets?

    Secondly, I still hold on to the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity & that the only thing worse than people saying something bad about you (your book) is if theyr aren't talking about you at all..

    Cheers, Jill

  2. Dontcha think? I mean, I have never been paid for a book review. Authors are expected to market, market, market. I will not give a bad book a good review. I couldn't. Just in case there's actually a person who would make a decision based on something I said. But I'm not gonna go out and pay actual money (well, usually) to review a book primarily as a favor. Sheeshkabobalino. And the ARC thing? Presumably they have no value as the ethical thing to do after having read one is to destroy it.

    Okay, it would be bad to have NOTHING said about your book. But I would feel crushed and bruised and battered and knifed to read something derogatory about me or my book. Which is why so many authors say don't pay attention to any of them—the good, the bad, or the downright ugly.

    Speaking of which . . . RELENTLESS by Dean Koontz. I loved everything about the book except the ending. (About a book reviewer with obscene power.)

  3. I guess the big deal is if they start legislating and reviewers start getting in trouble. Crazy.

  4. Some people have no morals when it comes to these things. They'll say anything if you pay them. Honesty means very little anymore, and very few people are genuinely trustworthy. This is just another in a long line of rules designed to protect people too naive to realize that. A slap in the head might do them better.

    But really, it's not aimed at us, it's aimed at the sites that do accept money for reviewing books, instead of doing it for fun. (Sounds like a dream job, I know.) Granted, authors/publishers pay up front in most cases and then the review can be good or bad, but it's a potential bias that readers aren't always aware of. I can't imagine that it does effect many of the reviews at least a little bit. Why would a publisher keep paying a blogger that gives them bad reviews? But the problem arises because readers think they can trust these big blogs with their timely reviews so they go out and buy the crappy book, but again... they need a good slap in the head. Or a rule to protect them in their ignorance might work too.


  5. I agree, Peg, whether I've bought the book, then reviewed it because I loved it, or an author contacted me and sent me her book for free, I'm going to give it the same review: whichever one sums up my take. I can't believe any reviewer would skew his or her response based on being given a twelve dollar gift--I mean, if someone offered me a million bucks, might I be tempted to shrug and say, Great book? Sure. Hope I wouldn't even then. But for an ARC? Not worth it.

    For some reason, this post makes me think of blurbs. Once a book is publishable it's usually good enough that something positive can be said about it. Or at least a portion could be snipped and used. And no one would put a bad endorsement on a cover anyway, even if one were given (does any author write a bad blurb?) I think blurbs are harder to figure out or trust than reviews, where you can usually read between the lines and get a true sense of the reviewer's take.

  6. I always assumed that review copies were sent out for free in hopes that the newspaper or magazine would get someone to review the book. It was a given in my world. Only when the book was reviewed on a personal blog (and there had been no pimping of the author as a personal friend in the past) could I assume it was not from a free book. (grin)

    I think they're being silly, as I have found fewer and fewer "official" media venues for book reviews in the first place. Most reviews I see now are on blogs, and they're mostly done by friends of the writer who are pretending to have discovered a great new talent! (grin) I only wish I had such helpful friends! Mine are all off doing fan fiction on David Tennant as Doctor Who or arguing about some other stuff with various trolls online.

    Shalanna Collins
    (my suspense/paranormal novel--read for free)