10.16.2009

Why Review Books & Zines

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commis...Image via Wikipedia

With new FTC guidelines for bloggers (good post at IFB, btw) who receive and give away freebies (technically called "endorsements and testimonials in advertising" - see the 81 page PDF version of the FTC summary - disclaimer: I have not read it! :) I've been thinking about the free books I receive from publishers on occasion for the purpose of reviewing them. Here are some random thoughts...

1st - Some publishers aren't very discerning when distributing free advance review copies of their books. Almost anyone can get a hold of a novel gratis despite their blog's minimal traffic. Case in point: me.

2nd - I'm for disclosure. But really, I think most people know ahead of time that if you come across a review the blogger did not pay for the book. I review books at SFReader.com and that's the incentive!

3rd - So I review because I get free stuff. But I also do it because it helps my writing. It causes me to be creative (it's hard saying the same thing 100 different ways!) and allows me to use the thesaurus.

4th - Which leads, eventually, to the tediousness of reviewing long term. Came across Kevin Lucia's post on some of the challenges of reviewing - and these couple of paragraphs echo my thoughts and feelings pretty well.
I sometimes wonder what more there is to say.

I'm not a slammer of books. Quite frankly, if I read a book and it's bad...I won't finish it or review it. There's no point. If I rip the book, it makes me look like a jerk, it doesn't help the author, and - most importantly - it doesn't help readers, telling them about bad books they shouldn't read. Of course, I don't want to be "glad-handing" books all the time, because that lacks credibility.

So. Sometimes I feel pumped to write a review. The book was fantastic, and because it was full of substance and style, I have lots to say. The review is literally written in my head, and it takes minutes to write. Sometimes, though...the book wasn't noticeably bad, written well enough...but I just have no idea what to say about it that I haven't already said hundreds of times before.

Good points!

Well, since this was a tossing out of random ideas, I'll close with that. Do with it what you will. But if you quote me, please disclose that nothing was exchanged in the process.
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