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Honesty – Booking Through Thursday

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This week’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

I couldn’t help but giggle at today’s question. I have a post all ready to go that discusses this very topic, so I’ll briefly answer this and then ask my own question.

I think many reviewers are uncomfortable with putting up a negative review of a book, which I totally understand. Obviously, I don’t have that problem. Nor do I think reviewers need to put up disclaimers on their blog.

What I AM seeing, though, is reviewers starting to actually decline review books. Blogging about books definitely has its perks; I practically get to cherry pick the books I read! However, I also haven’t had much time to read older books that have intrigued me or books that were in my TBR pile long before I started blogging. I took down my note to authors and publishers that I will review books quite a while ago. I still have people that I get books from to review, but I no longer advertise that I’m open to this.

So my question to you is: How has receiving ARCs affected your reading? Have you considered stemming the flow of incoming books so you have more freedom to read what you want? Has receiving free books become more of a burden than a blessing?

| Tags: , , , 46 comments »

46 Responses to “Honesty – Booking Through Thursday”

  1. The Social Frog

    Hey Trish,
    Great answer & I have not recieved any books to review just yet, but I am hoping I will soon.

    [Reply]

  2. Carrie K.

    I have started to limit the number of review copies and ARCs I accept. Getting all those free books didn’t stop me from buying books, too, and now the ones I actually bought for myself are piling up. I’m hoping to get through my ARCs by the end of the year so that I can get to some of those.

    [Reply]

  3. bethany canfield

    great question. I was going to post about this next week πŸ™‚ It came up when I posted the last discussion on my blog. It seems people/bloggers generally feel that there need to be more non- new releases reviewed and I agree. I am working on limiting my trigger happy click finger, but it is a self-control thing that I need to do. I need to go to some sort of book craze AA or something!!!

    Great post.

    [Reply]

  4. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    Well it definitely determines what I read, but I’m getting more and more selective. The problem is that I”m pretty open to reading just about everything.

    The thing about reviewing older titles is that a lot of them are OOP. How frustrating to find a book you want to read but being unable to read it. Alas, backlists are shrinking, so maybe that would be a way to help with that. Who knows?

    [Reply]

  5. BooksPlease

    Review books were affecting my reading and I only receive a few now and then, but even so I have started to be selective about the books I accept as free books for review.

    [Reply]

  6. Melody

    I guess I’ll try not to accept too many ARCs in this case… anyway most of the times I choose them based on my interest on the books.

    [Reply]

  7. JM

    There are so many books I have that I want to read, but this ARC or that book comes up and it’s hard to resist. I’ve definitely become a lot more picky as well. I have to if I’m ever going to read the books I’ve bought or my husband’s collection of books.

    Receiving books hasn’t become a burden, but it has gotten to the point where I hope my location (Australia) will scare some authors with the cost of posting a book as a sort of first level purging. πŸ˜›

    [Reply]

  8. Sally

    I have pulled back in selecting books to review because it was raining books in this house. Although that’s a delightful scenario, I began to feel pressure. Reading is a pleasure, and I don’t want to mess it up.

    [Reply]

  9. Janet

    Yes, same here. I need the pleasure of reading, and don’t really want to get snared by book reviews that “rain book” I don’t choose.

    [Reply]

  10. Meghan

    I’m in England so I don’t receive many review copies here – I think I’ve gotten 4 total in 2 months – but I have the ones with releases I know I’ll get to that also sound interesting sent to my parents’ house. I still have some that I got in the States, actually, which means I wasn’t really interested in them to start with, and I need to stop requesting books just because they’re free.

    I’m still accepting them, but I am being much more selective than I was at first. I still wouldn’t call it a burden, but I do want to read my own books. When I read those, I review them, too, so I am trying to get older books out there. It’s not all about new releases on my blog.

    [Reply]

  11. Kathy

    I stopped signing up for Early Reviewer books except at library thing.com It got to where I felt like I was being assigned homework and not doing something I enjoyed.
    Kathy

    [Reply]

  12. Corinne

    I’m still accepting them to a point, I’m also more selective and I let them know that it may take quite a while for me to get around to reading and reviewing them. Between challenge books and my two book clubs – I have GOT to draw the line somewhere.

    [Reply]

  13. mervih

    The only review books I get are through the Curled up with a book book-site and I get to choose them. However, the vast majority of books available there are not to my taste (for example non-fiction books about various cultural things in US. I’ve never even been to US so I really don’t feel qualified to review them!) and sometimes it’s really hard to pick them.

    However, I’m also a slow reader with a huge TBR pile so if I were to get any more review books, I would likely get rather anxious.

    [Reply]

  14. bermudaonion

    When I first started blogging, I accepted any book that was offered to me, but I’m much more selective now. I love winning books, since there’s no obligation to read them in any certain time frame.

    [Reply]

  15. Bluestocking

    I’m selective. In future I will be more selective still. I don’t get that many offers fortunetely. Many of the ARCs I receive are books I requested from the author/publisher.

    I’m always honest. I too got a bad reaction a few weeks ago.

    [Reply]

  16. 3m

    I’m starting to feel the pressure a little bit and may stop requesting for awhile. I still love reading new books, but some of the best 2008 titles I’ve read this year were ones that I got from the library – Atmostpheric Disturbances and Downtown Owl.

    In the future I may just go that route (with a few exceptions) because my library seems to get quite a few new releases in and I’m almost always near the top of the list to get them.

    [Reply]

  17. Yvonne

    I’ve had to decline a few reviews, too. I definitely began to feel overwhelmed with the amoutn of books I was accepting for review and my own TBR that I wanted to get to as well. It’s hard to turn them down, but I was starting to feel pressure to complete reviews. This is supposed to be fun, so I don’t need the additional pressure. I’m still accepting review books, just being a bit more selective.

    [Reply]

  18. Christine

    I just decided to stop accepting review books. They take up too much of my reading time, and I hate having to finish them so that I can write a review. I’ll be concentrating more now on actually reading for pleasure — hooray!

    [Reply]

  19. Chris@bookarama

    I wonder where this question came from? Hmmm.

    Anyway, I’m pretty choosy about the books I get. I have so many at home now that I want to read. The ones given to me to review take priority and that’s means it will take longer to get to those other ones.

    However, I love free books! I don’t have to spent my money on new books.

    [Reply]

  20. Jill

    I never have gotten into the ARC thing…I have plenty to read on my own, and I didn’t want the pressure.

    [Reply]

  21. S. Krishna

    I’ve started becoming REALLY picky about the books I accept to review. If the author expects the book to be reviewed on a tight deadline, I will usually decline.

    [Reply]

  22. Jeane

    I never was under a flood of ARCs, but I have had quite a few offers that just don’t fit with my reading interests. I’ve always been rather picky about the books I accept from publishers/authors, but lately I’ve become even more so. Not only because of what’s transpired lately, but also because getting review books takes up the time I’d be spending going through my huge TBR lists and the pile by my bed. Now I only accept books that look like something I’d try and find to read on my own anyway.

    [Reply]

  23. Amy

    I admit that I have been feeling the pressure a bit and am pulling back a bit. I have a huge stack needing my attention but I also have a huge stack of books already on my shelf that I want to read.

    Amy
    http://readingtoolate.net

    [Reply]

  24. Suey

    I’ve had a few sent to me. Sometimes I get little jealous when I see all the books many book bloggers get… but then I remember that if I was getting that many, I think I would go totally insane. I need to use most of my time reading the books I want to read, and not the ones I have to.

    [Reply]

  25. Ti

    I am in a bit of a crunch right now trying to fulfill all of my book commitments within a certain time frame. I am fairly new to all of this so I am still figuring out how to do stuff but even with all the ARCs and requests for reviews, I still select the books that I want to read. I would not read any of them if they did not interest me.

    [Reply]

  26. Heather

    I have only recently started to get review requests but I’ve already learned that I need to be pretty picky about what I accept. With over 100 books on my TBR shelves (some really new, highly recommended ones that I’ve been dying to read!) I also really want to make sure I’m reading the books that I already own. I love getting free books (who doesn’t?) but when the book comes with the pressure of a review and a deadline – real or perceived – it’s not so simple. What I really hate is when a publisher or author contacts me and says something like “This particular book sounds exactly like the kind of reading you usually do, based on what I’ve seen from your blog” when 9 times out of 10 they don’t have a clue about the contents of my blog. UGH. I almost always turn those down, lol. I did have one time, however, when I posted a review of something I’d received from a publisher, and afterwords the author emailed me personally to tell me what a fantastic blog I have and how she enjoyed reading my reviews of x, y, and z books. Now THAT was really nice. πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  27. Alyce

    I started blogging four months ago, and I started out requesting a lot of books. Now I have a big stack of books to review, and I have learned to be more choosy so that I don’t end up with so many mediocre books, or books from genres I’m not so interested in.

    Having review copies has limited the reading I would normally do, and that is just another reason why I have started to be more choosy about the review copies I accept.

    [Reply]

  28. Shelly Burns

    I haven’t had to, but wouldn’t have a problem posting a negative review. Receiving review books has limited my reading, but I’ve just had to be choosy. If I don’t think I’ll like it or it’s not my style, then I don’t request it…simple as that.

    [Reply]

  29. Alea

    I haven’t read one of my own books in several months and I definitely want to be doing that! I guess i see it like this, since i have these books to review i will read them first and then read my other books, but the stream never dries up, which is my own fault!

    [Reply]

  30. Monica

    Great follow up question. I actually never advertised that I’d receive ARCs, but I was contacted by a publisher, and I actually WANT to read a lot of the titles… therefore it works out well for me!

    [Reply]

  31. karen (morsie)

    I really liked this week’s BTT question, definitely discussion-generating – though I’m sorry that it was inspired by some drama over here.

    Anyway, I’ll take a stab at your questions:

    1. Yes and no – I do end up reviewing books that I wouldn’t necessarily read. What I hate most about reviewing, actually, is feeling forced to read a book that you simply aren’t in the right mindset for just because you have a review due.
    2. Yes and I actually have done so.
    3. Definitely yes, though I’ve managed to get them to stop coming for the most part.

    [Reply]

  32. Florinda

    I don’t actively solicit books for review. When I first started blogging, my purpose was to have a record of what I’d read and remember something about it, and I assumed I’d be blogging about books I owned and chose on my own. I didn’t even KNOW that book bloggers got recruited to do reviews.

    Most of the review books I received during my first months of blogging were for blog tours that I signed up for. I’d been blogging almost a year before I was offered my first review book, and I’ve gotten more review copies through publicists than I have from authors directly.

    But yes, ARCs and review copies have definitely affected my reading patterns. I think there’s a responsibility to read and post about those books in a timely manner, so I put them ahead of my own books even if they’re not what I feel like reading at a given time.

    I think I’m pretty selective. I try not to solicit, or accept on offer, any books that I wouldn’t be interested in reading on general principles, and I try not to have too many review books in at once. But I may cut it back even more next year. It’s hard, though; turn down too many, and you hurt your relationships, which means you could potentially lose out on a great review opportunity down the road!

    [Reply]

  33. gentle reader

    Great question! I have decided to be much pickier about the books I accept for review. For one thing, I don’t have enough time to read and review a lot of mediocre books. I feel responsible to read and review things in a timely fashion, and I don’t like feeling that pressure. I also don’t like feeling the pressure to like a book, or to at least be really, really kind in my reviews, and though I know I shouldn’t feel that pressure, I do feel it. So I’m limiting the ARCs and review copies I accept.

    [Reply]

  34. Melanie

    I’ve been reading a lot more ARCs and review copies this year, although I only request/accept books that I know I want to read. I have just been thinking about how the older books and classics on my TBR list are getting pushed aside, so will be reviewing fewer freebies next year, I think. I enjoy getting them but don’t like feeling pressured to read and review when I don’t really want to. Although I have discovered some gems this year, so don’t want to quit altogether… just become even MORE selective.

    [Reply]

  35. Matthew

    The authors and publishers should know better than reviewers owe their readers honest opinion. There is no room for dispute. If they can’t handle negative reviews, they should keep the books to themselves.

    I have made it clear to whoever sent books my way that I don’t review every book received. I just don’t.

    [Reply]

  36. Natasha @ Maw Books

    When I first started blogging I was super excited to receive review books and went a little overboard on what I was accepting. Now that I’m a good 15-20 books behind I realized that I need to be super picky about what I ask for. I do have a review policy on my blog and do think that it’s a practice that more bloggers should adopt. It doesn’t have to be long, technical, or over the top. It just says I review all books I read, whether it’s positive or negative. I put it up mainly to explain what types of books I enjoy reading. Doing this cut back my inbox dramatically. I now no longer get requests to review books that are outside of my preferred genre or expertise. I enjoy reading ARC’s and review books. I like having the interaction with authors and publishers.

    [Reply]

  37. Carol

    I haven’t been involved with reviewing books as of yet but I can see where it could cause pressure. Since I retired I don’t want any undo stress in my life.

    [Reply]

  38. mellymel

    I’ve been receiving some unsolicited ARCs and have been emailing the contacts to say – thanks for thinking of me, but I won’t be reviewing them. From the beginning, I have tried to be honest with publicists about which books I’ll review – since I figure if they aren’t normally what I’d read, chances are I wouldn’t like them.
    I like to get free books and don’t feel much pressure about reviews. I think I’ve only LOVED one or two. Although, I haven’t reviewed any since your incident πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  39. Kiki

    I’ve been flooded lately–I’m in the Amazon Vine program, and actually declined to get any books today–very unusual for me to turn down any free book, be it an ARC or a book I may win in a contest. I also have access to way too many books to buy and borrow through work (book store) and the library (where they also have a used book store!). So, I maintain a pretty strong book habit!

    But lately, I have been feeling pressure. My TBR pile is crazy tall. I just can’t keep up with my regular and reading (3-4 per month) and reading 4 books month to review as well–just can’t do it. Gotta sleep some time!

    [Reply]

  40. Becca

    I’ve only been “book blogging” for about a year, but it didn’t take long to realize there was no way I could read all the books I was offered. Nor would I want to. So, yes, I’ve become very selective about the books I accept. If I’m going to take the time to read and review a book, I’d much rather it be one I’m happy to promote.

    My reading time is limited enough – why limit it further by reading books I don’t really care for just so I can review them?

    Not gonna do it.

    [Reply]

  41. Dawn

    Yes, I’m fairly selective about what I am willing to accept as a review copy. I’ve gotten more so, as my stack piles up.

    I like to alternate between review copies and “just for fun” books like my book group picks, friends’ recommendations, and books I stumble across at the bookstore.

    I think I’m finally getting a good system … always good to tweak it, though.

    A comment I left under my BTT post talks more about how I “vet” books I am offered for review.

    [Reply]

  42. gautami tripathy

    Many a times, I have ignored my TBR pile to read the free books I received. Now I am more selective. I alternate!

    Read my BTT post!

    [Reply]

  43. softdrink

    Well, we’ve talked about this before, but I finally posted about it. And I didn’t realize, but I ended my post with an answer to your question. I’m kinda missing all the books I’ve already got hanging out around my house, so just after I started with the review copies, I think I’m ending the review copies.

    [Reply]

  44. dew

    I decline review books all the time. Or, to be more specific, I just don’t respond to emails. I mean, I get at least half a dozen a day, and some of them are for crazy shit like “non-fiction” about John Lennon selling his soul to the devil.

    I think I only ever accept about 1% of the books offered, really. Usually I only take them if I already wanted them in the first place. And I don’t see why any of us ever feel guilty about not reading, accepting or reviewing books. You know what, I’m such a jerk that I will accept a review book, and if it looks like crap once it arrives, I just list it on bookmooch. Some might consider that unethical, but the way I see it, I was offered that book, thought I wanted it, changed my mind, and gave it to someone who DID want it.

    But I do think it’s good to have a disclaimer on your blog. That way, authors like the one you tangled with will know that you don’t just give out free positive publicity in exchange for a free crappy book. I find that the quality of books I’m offered has increased since I put up my disclaimer. And it frees you up to do things like pass the book on without reading it, or let it sit on your shelf for months until you feel like reading it.

    Oh, and I don’t know if other people are noticing this (I only read the comments here of bloggers I know) but I think that I’m getting books offered on the basis of keyword searching programs. I don’t think it’s humans looking, because anyone searching my blog for John Lennon, for example, would realize that there’s no way I think he sold his soul to the devil. I don’t even believe in the devil, and I’m not entirely sold on the concept of souls. However, if there are gods in our midst, I think Lennon was one, so WTF? Why would someone offer me that book if they had read even the few posts with Lennon’s name in them?

    That’s just one example. I notice that most of the books I’m offered have some relation in some tiny way to something I mentioned in my blog at some point. See if you think the same is happening to you. It makes it easier to just not respond to the emails. Or at times, not even open them.

    [Reply]

  45. purplemoonmyst

    Good question!! Like so many above me I too have started to be choosy when it comes to book I will accept. It got to where I had a big stack and was not really enjoying it that much. Now I only select books that looks like I would have bought it.

    [Reply]

  46. Nicole

    Internet connection problems Thurs. Check out my post!

    http://imemeit.blogspot.com/2008/11/booking-through-thursday-honesty.html

    [Reply]

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