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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Are reviewers obligated to be nice?

There are some great conversations going on around the blogosphere regarding reviews and if a reviewer is obligated to give a favorable review in exchange for a free copy of a book. I don't think this is true, and I wouldn't ever say a book was great if it wasn't. I might not write the scathing review that I'd tell my husband, but I'd still post about the book and I'd let it be known that I wasn't a fan. Just this morning I posted a not great comment on Goodnight Bush. It wasn't a full review, I don't have the guts for that, but it wasn't glowing. It would appear that not all authors feel this way though.

Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha readin'? posted an unfavorable review of a book she received from an author. She included a quote from the book as well, and based soley on the quote, I can imagine not enjoying the book. She was then attacked by the author for posting a negative review. Since then, several other blogger have also posted about the controversy. Obviously, I am too. Jessica, at Both Eyes Books Blog wrote a great post about it. Here's a good quote, but be sure to pop over and read the entire thing too.

Book bloggers are already generating unprecedented word-of-mouth sales and sending (readable) books to the top of best-seller lists. The reason this works, though, is that people trust this army of homegrown reviewers. If an author comes along and wants a quid-pro-quo arrangement - either a positive review or no review in exchange for, whoopee, a free book - well, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Check this post at B&b ex libris about the dilemma of writing a review for a book you don't love. There is a great conversation in the comments of that post, so be sure to read those too. Do you think you need a disclaimer on your blog too? I'm thinking about adding one to mine!

It makes one wonder if the author really thought this through. If he paid any attention at all to the book blogging community, which you'd think would be in his best interests to do, then he'd have know how fast this would spread. Tell me, if you're reading this now, do you have ANY interest in reading his book? Without knowing the title, author or genre, and only knowing the controversy, would you accept it?


  1. Thanks for posting about this, Lisa. I think it's a good discussion for us to have, and ironically I have a draft post about this very topic...I think a lot of us will be doing disclaimers right away! :D

  2. I already have my disclaimer posted on my site.

  3. This is a great topic for discussion. I, for one, appreciate honest reviews. Trish did a great job with her review - it was honest without being mean. The author was way out of line and I do not want to read any of his work.

  4. I don't know why you even need a disclaimer. I wouldn't give what this author said another thought. I'll add, there are certain blogs I stopped reading because I suspected they would only write positive reviews.

  5. I'm one of those reviewers that if I spent hours reading a book and I didn't like it, I'm going to vent about why I didn't like the book on my blog. I guess that's why I've been labeled a "mean girl reviewer" before but I don't let that get me down.

    I review for the love of reviewing and for the love of promoting books that I absolutely love. I don't love every book I read and it sucks that there are authors out there who let reviews get the better of them and make asses of themselves in public.

    Don't like the review? Fine, bitch and moan to your friends and your family but don't bring it to the internet where bloggers have a long memory because that can never be good.

  6. I have had a disclaimer on my blog for a while now and I've always believed that anybody accepting review copies should have one. I know it works because I've had people reference it when making inquiries.

  7. I'll be adding a disclaimer to me site for sure now. And I wouldn't read anything from this author now after reading all of this. Interesting topic.

  8. Honest reviews are what makes book bloggers so great. You can get many different views on the book and then decide for yourself whether to read the book or not.

    I did find it interesting that the author wanted his quote taken down. If he was proud of his work, shouldn't he have left it up so that people could read it and form their own opinion. I won't be reading his book. Partially because he has an attitude problem; however, mostly it is because I read the passage and didn't like it.

  9. I think this is a conversation that we need to be having and I've loved reading all of the conversations on the different blogs today. I think our integrity goes way down if people start posting less than honest reviews, and I know that I've wondered how to pad some of my comments in the past (well, I've only received two books from authors that I've reviewed so far and I really liked one and eh about the other). I've never thought about a disclaimer, but I don't have a note on my blog that says "pick me pick me to review your book." That's a different story, though... :P I guess when I communicate via email with authors I should discuss such things, but free books for a decent review? Who has time or wants to read crappy books--even if they are free!?! Please.

    I've been such a rambler today!! :)

  10. I went over and read Trish's review, and I really think she did not slam the book. The criticism was constructive, and the author acted like a child.

    On my blog, I often do not like books, and will definitely say so. Like today's review of Companions of the Night.

    When I reviewed 2 books for BelleBridge books, Bite Me & Moonstone, I truly liked them. I would not lie in a review, ever.

    I've had authors comment on my reviews three times:

    Patricia Wood commented on my review of Lottery, and was very sweet. (I liked the book & gave it a B).

    Tosca Moon Lee emailed me about my review of Demon: A Memoir. I wasn't sure what to think of the book, and even with that said, her comment was so graceful, she said "Thank you for including a review of Demon on your blog! I very much appreciate it, and am so glad that you found something of significance in the story."

    Lastly, when I reviewed Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, I has absolutely loved it. Marta Acosta contacted me to tell me I'd made her weekend better, and was so nice. She sent me copies of Midnight Brunch & The Bride of Casa Dracula.

    So I haven't had the experience of an author being offended by my reviews (even though I've posted 41 D & F reviews this year).

    When it all comes down to it, a free copy of a book is not enough to sacrifice integrity & honesty.

  11. I decided to play it safe & write a disclaimer:

  12. Hi Lisa! I signed you up for the 3rd of December for the Advent Calendar!

  13. Thanks everyone, for your comments. It's certainly something to think about, isn't it?

    Kailana, I marked my calendar!

  14. I've had a disclaimer on my blog now for some time which states I always review honestly. I've only had one bad response from an author. You asked if any of us would read the author who Trish reviewed - my answer is NO because I thought he was incredibly unprofessional and rude in his response to her (rather than thanking her for even giving his book any time at all). He also apparently threatened her with a lawsuit for using the cover of his book and a quote in her review - how ludicrous. I don't need threats and nasty emails...That said, I have met some incredibly wonderful authors who are gracious and thankful for the time I've taken to read and review their books.


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