Publisher input

Here's a question for the book bloggers out there: how many of you accept free copies from publishes, on the assumption that you'll consider reviewing them?

I ask because I'm getting a bit of a roster of requests now, from small publishers I already do a fair bit to support (including teaching their books - hi, Rachel!) as well as from larger ones to whose fortunes I would have assumed I was incidental. I mean, do Random House and National Geographic, to use a couple of examples, really need me? My default position is that I'll pursue my own interests, thank you very much, but of course I do cheerfully follow up recommendations from people - no man is an island etc.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I haven't seen many policy statements out there from places like the inestimable Baby Got Books, John Mutford at The Book Mine Set, Kate at Kate's Book Blog, Beth at BooksEtc., Patricia at BookLust, RagDoll at My Tragic Right Hip, The Literate Kitten....

Comments

August said…
I'm considering putting up a policy statement, but my site is still relatively unknown (well, actually, less well-known that it used to be) so I can still count on one hand the number of books that have been sent my way.

My policy is pretty simple: a) I accept only fiction, because it's all I feel qualified to write intelligently about, b) I decide on an individual basis if I'm willing to review a book, because I'm only one man and I still have a day job outside the industry, and a life to boot, c) I do not guarantee good reviews, only that they will be fair, honest, and up within roughly a month (though usually sooner).

I hope this helps.
Tim said…
I was a little hesitant at first to have books sent to me for my "consideration". Then it occurred to me that every mainstream media outlet that reviews books gets boxes of unsolicited books daily.
The New York Times does not have a policy statement that I've ever seen nor has any newspaper I've ever read said "The following book was received free from the publisher" - but it almost always is. We're not the New York Times, but you get my meaning.

I cheerfully accept books that I have every intention of reading or that sound interesting. If I have a good relationship with the publisher, I may even ask for an advance of a book that I fully intend to read. It has happened.

That said, there are only three publishers that send me things on a regular basis. Two large houses, and one that is very small. Occasionally I will be contacted by an author directly, and I have also received advance copies from my local book seller in instances where we may plan to host the author for an event - if we both like the book.

My policy to all is -- feel free to give me books, but I reserve the right to not read it and to not like it. I also refused offers for books that I have no interest in reading.

More often than not, I'm reading a book that I bought from a store. I like to read what I want to, and I don't ever want to feel obligated to read something. However, there have been a few wonderful occasions where an excellent book that I would not have read otherwise has turned up in my box.
Melanie said…
My working policy is much the same as the previous ones; I will accept books that I intend to read, mostly fiction since that is my primary reading focus. I won't guarantee that I will read it immediately or review it positively, but I do make the effort to only request/accept books that I intend to read. I frequently receive books from 2 big houses and one small one, and have had a few offers from publicists or authors. I've found a few excellent books this way.
richard said…
Hmm - I must travel in the wrong circles. I was expecting protests against getting co-opted by The Man, somehow....

Clearly I'm going to have to think harder about this.
Tim said…
I also give away many of the books that I receive for free as part of my unofficial "share the love" program.

When I was debating the issue with myself, I looked around for a lit blog policy of ethics to adopt or modify but couldn't find anything like that.

I'm all for transparency, and you've got me thinking that some sort of statement on the site wouldn't be a bad idea.
bookchronicle said…
I do accept publisher's/author's requests to review books. As it's a slow trickle of requests, I usually only refuse books that I know I would never, ever read. However, I also like to assure them that I blog about all the books I read, good and bad, and that I'll post an honest opinion.

The worse part of reviewing books sent to me is that I'm always tempted to give better review than I might otherwise.
patricia said…
I used to accept a lot of books, but it got to be too overwhelming, and then I had no time to read the books I was really interested in. Plus I felt kind of obligated to write reviews for these books, because I got them for free. It was just taking up too much of my time.

So I turn down pretty much all email review requests, and very rarely get books now.

But you've got me thinking...perhaps I should have some sort of note on my blog saying please don't bother, and that I only review books that I like, not ones that I receive for free. There's so many book bloggers out there already doing a great job of reviewing books.
richard said…
Bookchronicle, that's kind of my worry as well - I'd be influenced in my review, either positively or negatively.

Tim, I like your idea of passing books on, since I've been a beneficiary of your largesse once already, but then isn't that deducting a volume from the sales receipts for that book? With small publishers I don't like the idea of getting a free book when their margins are likely pretty slim already.

I'm leaning now toward accepting books from publishers - but the pondering continues....
Zachariah Wells said…
I wouldn't worry about the margins. Think of how many books in the average print run sit around, generating no revenue and not getting read. Unwanted books can also be donated to libraries.

I don't get review copies because of my blog but because I'm a book reviews editor. It would be impossible to find a reviewer for every book I receive, even if I wanted to. Which I don't. Publishers understand that mailing a book out is no guarantee of a review, positive or otherwise. I do think it's bad form not to write something about a book you've specifically asked for, however.
richard said…
Well, that about settles it - I'll accept review copies after all. I'll go back to the presses that prompted this pondering, I suppose, as well as try to craft a reasonable-sounding policy statement to stick in the margin.

Along with explaining what I want to receive, the statement will also mention that I'll donate unwanted books to local secondary school libraries. Thanks for all the input, people!

Popular Posts