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.