Lenore from Presenting Lenore posted about an interesting topic today. She talked about where her last 20 books came from, partly because Marie of The Boston Bibliophile just posted to her post where she lists the sources of her last 20 reviewed books, and also because Julia Keller recently said, “The extra story is how that book made its way to you in the first place,” in her article in the Chicago Tribune.
I completely agree with Julia Keller about how the story of how you found a book is similar to “…a courtship story: The chance encounter, the first shy glance, the recognition of a shared sensibility and finally — ah, bliss! — the consummation.” I’m sure my husband wouldn’t appreciate being compared to a book, but isn’t there that feeling with a really good book of not wanting to part for a second, wanting to spend every minute together, and a feeling a pure satisfaction when you close the last page?
I digress…this post was supposed to be about bloggers and commercialism, not me waxing rhapsodic about books I love.
Marie poses these questions: “But no more freebies- no more purely promotional work. What would that mean for our blogs? For our reading? Is the only reason we blog to receive free books?”
While I believe I’ve stated that I don’t blog for free books, I’ll admit they’re nice to receive. What book lover wouldn’t relish receiving books because someone wanted THEIR OPINION on that book? As a peon in the grand scheme of things, I’m now a peon WHOSE OPINION IS SOLICITED. I think I just moved up, however microscopically, in the food chain.
My blog isn’t purely a book blog; I have other interests and other thoughts that I talk about here, so I don’t see how not receiving anything from authors or publishers would change my reading or the purpose/focus of my blog.
I liked that Lenore and Marie took their last 20 books and told you from whence they came, and I think I’ll do the same. However, I’m going to list all the books I’ve read this year and tell you where/how I acquired them, then I will break it down into percentages.
- I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb – This was a re-read of a book I already owned. I bought it years ago.
- Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer – I borrowed this book from a friend.
- The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver – I checked this out from the library because it was an Amazon Significant Seven.
- Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer – Checked out from the library after reading a great review on a blog.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett – Requested from publisher after reading a glowing review on a blog.
- In the Land of No Right Angles by Daphne Beal – Checked out from the library. I checked this book out because it had gotten great reviews in Publisher’s Weekly.
- Blindness by Jose Saramago – Checked out from the library after reading Raych’s review.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Checked out from the library after hearing about it on various blogs, then I was going to buy a copy because I loved it so much, but happened to receive it as a gift from a friend.
- Wake by Lisa McMann – Checked out from the library after reading various reviews on blogs.
- Silk by Alessandro Baricco – I got this book from Bookmooch after reading some great reviews.
- The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by Fiona Ingram – Sent to me by the author for me to read for potential book tour.
- Geek Love by Katherine Dunn – I won this book from Jill at Fizzy Thoughts. I was going to pass the book on when I was done but loved it so much that I kept it.
- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford – I requested this book from Shelf Awareness (I believe).
- The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan – Checked this book out from the library after reading some great reviews and finding out that the author would be making an appearance at a local bookstore.
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Borrowed from a friend.
- Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors – Received this book unsolicited from the author. Another author introduced us and I agreed to read his book(s) (I still have one book from the author that I haven’t read).
- Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales by Eleanor Bluestein – Received from the author, unsolicited, though I did agree to review it.
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – Bought this book from a local bookstore because it was selected for my book club.
- My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – I purchased this book years ago, and this was a re-read.
- Serena by Ron Rash – Checked out from the library after I saw it on the Amazon Significant Seven and friend insisted I read it.
- The Shanghai Moon by S. J. Rozan – Received unsolicited from the publisher, though I had agreed to review books they send me.
- Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton and Erin Torneo – Agreed to review after publicist queried me.
- Rape: A Love Store by Joyce Carol Oates – Checked out from library after a friend mentioned the book.
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – Got off Bookmooch after reading a review on Lisa’s blog.
- The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – Checked out from the library because it was a book club pick.
- Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – Checked out from library after reading great reviews on various blogs.
- Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan – Received from publisher after they Twittered about it. I requested the book.
- The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff – Received this book as part of a blog tour.
- No One You Know by Michelle Richmond – I bought this book after seeing the author on a panel.
- The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams – Received this book after being queried by publisher.
- The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson – I checked this book out from the library after reading great reviews on various blogs.
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – I flew from California to New York, waited in line at 5:30am in order to get a ticket just so I could get the book.
- The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson – I checked this book out from the library in order to be a judge in a bracket competition.
- Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers – I checked this book out from the library in order to be a judge in a bracket competition.
- Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea – Received this book from the publisher for an online book club I participate in.
- The Host by Stephenie Meyer – Received this book as part of a blog tour.
- The Reader by Bernard Schlink – I got this book from Bookmooch after reading great reviews on various blogs.
- The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay – Received this book to read before I put together the blog tour.
- Afraid by Jack Hilborn – Purchased this book for my Kindle on Jenn’s recommendation.
- Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy – Received this book unsolicited and probably wouldn’t have read it had it not been chosen for my book club.
- After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr – Received this book from the author to see if it would be appropriate for a blog tour.
- Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – I checked this book out from the library after reading great reviews on various blogs.
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – I checked this book out from the library after reading great reviews on various blogs.
- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith – I bought this book when I was at a book signing but already owned the book by the featured author.
This breaks down thusly:
2 – previously owned
16 – library
2 – borrowed
4 – requested
3 – bookmooch
9 – unsolicited
2 – blog tours
2 – won
4 – purchased
So basically I’m getting 29% of my books from publishers/authors, whether solicited or unsolicited. The other 71% are acquired by other means. These stats are very similar to last year, the only difference being that this year I’ve taken advantage of my library, whereas last year I bought a lot more books.
I don’t think that not receiving free books would change my blog AT ALL. I obviously review both older and newer books, from uber popular books to books that have gotten lost in the shuffle. But as far as whether I would still review new releases, there’s a couple of cool things in the book world, one called a library, the other called a bookstore, where I can borrow or buy pretty much any book I want. So I could borrow or buy any new and trendy book I want! *gasp* I know, this is crazy talk! And any blogger who enjoys reading the hot new releases (of which there is NOTHING WRONG WITH), they could do the same!
I say this because I’ve noticed an underlying condescension towards those who review new and trendy books. Perhaps it’s because those who review new and trendy books are considered “cool and popular” (obviously they are cool and popular because, duh, they’re getting the cool new books), and while I don’t want to get back into that whole conversation, I don’t know why it matters what another blogger reviews. In fact, I don’t know where I would be without the bloggers reviewing the new books! How else am I supposed to find the gems among the glut of books being released?
What’s my point? Heck, I don’t even know if I had any one point. I think it’s interesting to see where my books came from, but I don’t think it indicates how ethical I am. How ethical someone is on their blog doesn’t come from how many books they review that they got for free, rather, it comes from how honest they are in their reviews. Honesty is not dependent on whether you paid for a book or not…or at least, it shouldn’t be.