- Bloggers who receive books for free to review must clearly state this in their review;
- If you review a product and then link to a site that sells the product (i.e., the Amazon, IndieBound, AbeBooks websites that myriads of bloggers link to), then you are "endorsing" the product;
- If you keep a book that you are sent to review, then you are being compensated and are expected to write a positive review.
More importantly, it is only bloggers who are being "compensated" when they are sent a book to review. People who review for newspapers or journals, or people who actually are paid to write reviews, are apparently not being compensated when they receive free books. Why? According to Richard Cleland, it's because:
“In the case where the newspaper receives the book and it allows the reviewer to review it, it’s still the property of the newspaper. Most of the newspapers have very strict rules about that and on what happens to those products.”I don't know any newspaper reviewers, sadly, but my guess is that they get to keep the books, too. I have a feeling quite a few paid reviewers keep their books. And those who don't often sell them to used bookstores, or donate them and get tax write-offs. I don't think there are "very strict rules" in place there.
Really, I don't have an issue with the rules for full disclosure themselves. What annoys me is the double standard- that somehow, as bloggers write reviews for free, that we are somehow being "paid" in books to write favorable reviews, unlike reviewers on newspapers who are always, always completely unbiased. It annoys me because reviewing a book can't be an unbiased activity at all, in my view. No one reads the same book; my reaction to a book like Twilight is very different (depressingly so, really) than my sister's. That doesn't make either of our opinions moot, it just makes them different.
I like blogs because I can find people whose reading tastes closely resemble mine, and get book suggestions from them. I can trust those suggestions because I know I react in a similar way as that blogger to a certain type of book. I cannot say the same for a newspaper reviewer, whose reviews I scan only when the title or subject of the book being reviewed interests me. And so I vastly prefer people who read and review without getting payment, because these people read books they want to read, and not books that they have to read. (And really, by having to read and review a book to earn your living, doesn't that mean you are being compensated by books?)
And that's all I have to say on this subject for now. Apologies for my rambling rant- it's late!