Adventures in Reading

Unnerved: honesty & the book blogger pt. 2
October 12, 2008, 8:41 am
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , , , , , ,

I was absolutely thrilled by the response to my thinking postUnnerved: honesty & the book blogger,” though it does appear that I may have tread on at least a few toes. With so many interesting and thought-provoking comments, I wanted to respond:

When I was offered my first free book to review I was thrilled. It was an unexpected pay-off for blogging about books, and I loved it. But increasingly I’m aware, and hearing this in various forms, that merely accepting a free book presents some type of dilemma. If nothing else, people seem to feel a little odd when it comes to reviewing books that were given to them by an author or publisher that they would not feel towards a book they purchased or got from the library.

So the first issue I’m thinking about is (1) whether or not to even accept free materials, and then (2) whether or not to announce to blog readers that said book was free.

I only accept books that have caught my attention prior to the offer or that sound like something I would enjoy, and I do think it’s a worthy venture to express when a book was given to you to review.

Kimbofo from Reading Matters provided me with some stellar links continuing this discussion in regards to book blogger “code of conduct” as well as listing your reviewing standards on your blog.

What it comes down to for me (and thank you for everyone pointing this out!) is that while free books are great, and most publishers and authors certainly deserve reader respect, I am doing them a favor. Be honest, which doesn’t mean being cruel (either to the author or other readers who do enjoy the work) but does allow for diversity of opinion. Allow your reading audience and friends to be aware of your take, respect your own opinion. Don’t allow authors or publishers to push you around on reading due dates or negative opinions. Book blogging is fabulous but hard work, stand up for yourself and don’t allow something that should be entertaining and fun to become a grueling process.

The incredible shrinking book review, or to read or not to read
September 10, 2008, 12:36 pm
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , ,

A recent edition of Publisher’s Weekly “Soapbox” article caught my attention. Titled “Blurb Service,” I wasn’t sure whether I was meant to be annoyed or amused. (I hate when that happens.) More or less the article discusses that newspapers are shrinking the space available for book reviews and thus book reviews ought to “shrink accordingly.” The author Laurence Hughes [1] goes so far to suggest that reviews could even be hacked down to “blurbs,” all that readers really want.

There’s obviously a lot of tongue and cheek commentary roaming throughout the article, but it got me thinking. And here’s my confession: I have never read a book review from a newspaper. So dear publishers, you’re already missing at least part of your target audience there. Likewise, as I’ve discovered through book blogging, there is an enormous literary community passionate about books and reading nano-seconds away from you over the Internet. Whether it’s blogs, reviews, or book communities such as LibraryThing, I get (nearly) all of my book news online.

I confess though there’s a stinging truth in Hughes idea of “the blurb.” I only read entire reviews if it’s from a reviewer I know is also an interesting writer or if it’s a book I’ve already read. Otherwise I skim until I get to the good part: to read or not to read.

[1] Amusingly enough the name of an ex-boyfriend too!