Sunday, November 19, 2006

incorruptible, got it?

There's an interesting thread going on over at the MetauxCafe litblog. It's been addressed before, but the question is:
To what degree do bloggers compromise themselves by accepting free books for review from publishers? Are they now inevitably predisposed to mention it positively or provide a good review, or can any blogger worth their salt be trusted to ever by impartial once ARC's or review copies from publishers become part of the mix?
Good points from all sides, but the consensus is that most bloggers have larger lives to navigate and larger ethical concerns to fret over. Says Condalmo (fine site by the way)
"I'm not here to make money or get free books; I'm here because I live in East Bum and this is the closest I'll get to being part of a well-read community, with lively discussions and thoughts about books. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy free books, but sending me a book guarantees neither a review, nor a positive review. Nor even a mention - there's just too many books, and this blog isn't my full-time job. I work, I parent. "
There are blogs that are longstanding and going concerns and may even be a primary income source, but outfits like Sarah's and Jessa's very likely got where they are by being on pretty solid ground ethically.
I also share the general contention of the comments that follow that readers are generally savvy enough to suss out who they'll seek out as authors and/or reviewers.
The impetus from all this came from Simon & Schuster, the U.S publisher of Diane Setterfield's Thirteenth Tale, a monster bestseller with much co-operative ads from chain stores and good word of mouth from independents. (read it, not bad, a bit long, better than average first book)
S&S sent out the following to select bloggers in the U.S that read,
"Because you’ve done such a great job reviewing and promoting Simon & Schuster and Atria’s books in the past, I’d like to offer you an exciting and unique opportunity. Simply promote The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield in your blog, and you could be eligible to win a $100 American Express Gift Check and a library of Atria Books titles."
Not much to get excited about given bigger conflicts of interest out there in the good old world, but it seems fairly straightforward for even flyweight bloggers such as us to trade on our integrity by stating a few things up front.
Bookstores, even plucky independents like ours are lousy with review copies and promo material. However, most of my miserable screeds come from existing stock or titles in my home. I'm also rife with re-enforced preferences:
I don't care for historical novels, the eighteenth century and back isn't my drink of choice.
Every novel out of Canada's East coast reads the same to me. I'm content to call it a weakness on my part and just not explore it much further.
The Prairies are flat and boring and novels set in the Prairies are well...
A better than average short story gets more love than a better than average novel.
Crime fiction is where the favourite hand selling takes place.
Books from this outfit are better thank books from well, anywhere else.
American heavyweight fiction is better than Canadian heavyweight fiction, but second tier Canadian stuff is very good and getting a lot better very quickly. The future of the country's writers, if not the country is plenty bright.

Posted by Dave

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