I’ve been thinking about posting on this topic this for some time, but didn’t really want to offend anyone. But I think it is an interesting topic of discussion, so here goes.
I have only been approached a couple of times by authors asking me to review their books. I have declined, but it is only more recently that I could articulate why I felt so uncomfortable with the concept. Simply put, I don’t want this blog to be used to sell books.
I feel like life is becoming one big advertisement (okay, maybe I read Feed too recently) and well, I don’t want my creative outlet to be a part of that big ol’ marketing machine. I know there are more generous ways at looking at this issue. Bloggers help match readers with books they love and authors get to make a living doing what they love and publishers get to make money off of all that love and it stimulates our economy and our brains and our hearts all at the same time. It’s about LOVE and SHINY BOOKS and not money and greed and the corporations. I just can’t help but see that the bottom line is the bottom line– helping a company rake in the profits without being given a stake in those profits.
Whenever I stop to think about what I want from my blog, it really has nothing to do with helping authors or publishers hock their wares. I want to read whatever I feel like. I want to take advantage of my library as much as possible. I want to feel free to talk about a book like its creator isn’t sitting in the corner, listening. I want to do it on my own timeline, free from the pressure that anyone cares what I say or when I say it. I have no illusions about making money off my blog, so I don’t like the idea that someone else might be (although WordPress is putting ads on my blog because I choose to use the free version of their services, so well, someone is whether I like it or not). I don’t really care if I have to wait another month (or year) to read a book; if I’m really interested, I will pick up the book when it’s available. Ultimately, I just want to talk about books and reading with other people, as readers, not as consumers.
Obviously, my reviews are intended, at least in part, to help people decide whether a book is for them or not. I know that if they decide the book is for them, they may purchase the book. I suppose in that regard I am speaking to my audience as consumers, but I hope that I am speaking to them as readers first. I hope that I am sparking discussions and thoughts about language and humanity more than I am urging someone to purchase a particular book. Perhaps that is a lofty goal for my little book blog, but I usually spend a paragraph or two or three of my reviews talking about a book and its strengths and weaknesses and about one or two sentences on who the book would suit. So hopefully I’m not reaching too far to say I am more in the business of thinking and talking about books than I am in the business of promoting them.
Most of the other book bloggers I know and follow receive books from publishers (though some because it relates to their professional capacities, not their blogging ones) and that is fine. I don’t question that they are providing honest reviews (for the most part, but that is another can of worms). I am not jealous of the number of ARCs they get or that they get to read an awesome book months before I will. I don’t mind that they see their role in the blogosphere and the marketplace differently than I see mine.
At the end of the day, we all got into book blogging because we love books. How we express that love, is up to each of us, individually, to decide. I, for one, have chosen not to express that love in the form of free advertising for books at the request of an author or publisher. I don’t want to sell books.
How do you feel about accepting books from an author or publisher for review on your blog? If you do accept books for review, how do you feel about being used as free advertising? What do you see your role as a blogger being, in terms of selling books vs. talking about books? Can you do both at the same time?