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No such thing as a free hobby

A disturbing article about William Morrow's not-so-nice letter to bloggers. Basically, they imposed new restrictions on their review copies and initially demanded the books be reviewed within one month. They later retracted the deadline, but the memo still says it's a blogger's "job" to review the books they send. Not hobby, labor of love or avocation. Job.

Note our own Pam Coughlin is quoted. In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that book blogging led to my own freelance reviews for the LA Times for a brief time. I haven't reviewed for them in several years, however.

If this represents the first of many such missives from publishers, it won't be good news for individual book bloggers or for Cybils. While I understand that the mountains of review copies do get expensive for publishers, and times are indeed tough, I think they should really be focusing their efforts on tracking the number of blog reviews of a specific title and their effects on sales. It can be done. We've done it when we announce the winners and then watch as Amazon rankings spike for a few days. And they naturally have access to more precise sales data than we do.

That would help publishers figure out which reviewers might have had an influence, and work better and more efficiently with us. I also think it's better when they send us a checklist so we can select books rather than sending their entire frontlist. Of course, many already do this, but I recall HarperCollins being one of the more egregious senders-of-everything when I was still doing Book Buds.

Would love to know your thoughts on this.

Anne LevyNo such thing as a free hobby

Comments 3

  1. Alysa

    When I first started getting review copies, I was thrilled at getting everything. Now, I prefer to request books. I recognize that it costs for a publisher to send me a book, and if I get a package that I open and immediately say, “meh” it’s a disappointment to me (and probably them, when I never find time to read and review the book).
    I think the bottom line is that if they want to set up certain guidelines for the way they run their business, that’s their prerogative.

  2. Jennifer@5 Minutes for Books

    I totally agree that I love an email query. It works especially well because I manage a team blog, so there are sometimes titles that I’m sent that would have been great for someone else. I sometimes forward them on, but I don’t do it all the time, because that comes out of my pocket, and I have little patience with the post office.
    I don’t feel guilty about not reviewing titles I don’t request, but I do think that we have a responsibility to make an effort with what we do ask for. I will admit that I am way less than 100% on reviewing received titles, but I am much more careful now about what I request so that I can give them the attention they deserve.

  3. Melissa @imaginationsoup

    Not only does it take time, you might not like the book enough to 1) finish it or 2) review it. Often times, I get sent titles without requesting them and even when I do request, I have to see the book to know whether it merits my endorsement . . . as I only post positive reviews.

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