This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is there such a thing as a free book?

A lively debate was ignited at the Guardian site a few days ago by Edward Champion's article, There's no such thing as a free book, on the practice of publishers giving bloggers advanced reading copies of books that are soon to be published in exchange for a review on their blogs. This interested me as I had just recently received my first review copies from Hachette and Sourcebooks.

It was very exciting to open the front door and see that the postman had brought a lovely hardcover absolutely free to me for reading and reviewing and adding to my library. As it was followed up by a special delivery a few days later of two really stunning paperbacks I can say, as a booklover, it was a good week. But this article got me anxious. Would I feel pressure to write glowing reviews for all such books that I read?

There are lots of book blogs out there. If you're looking at mine right now, let me say (first, what good taste you have!) and, of course, how much I appreciate my readership. On my internet travels, I found a site called Becky's Book Reviews wherein the blogger makes no bones about the fact that while review copies are welcome, she will give an honest review so if you do not wish an honest review please do not send the book. Furthermore, she gets so many review copies she can't guarantee that she'll get around to all of them. Wise girl, Becky, I thought! I'd like to state that I have similar policies; I will endeavor to be as honest as possible with any review copy I have been sent. But I don't foresee a problem of becoming flooded with such books, so I should be able to give each some attention, true and honest attention.

Meanwhile, I am pleased so far to be enjoying my first review copy, the aforementioned hardcover, which is entitled Giants, the parallel lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln and is written by John Stauffer. There's a big whew! factor in reading this book since it's genuinely a good, entertaining comparison of the lives of these two famous men. I'll soon be posting a review. Stay tuned.


Becky said...

Thanks for visiting! This conversation about reviewing and questioning the ethics of receiving free books certainly goes and comes around. But I think it is a good thing because if nothing else it helps bloggers come up with their own policies.

Nancy said...

hi there! your blog is wonderful- i'm always looking for the bright side in what I read. i worked in publicity at several big publishing companies so let me ease your mind on this point. review copies are sent out in the *hope* of a review (good or bad at the reviewer's discretion), not in expectation of one. If you even mention the title in a round-up of books and send the link to the publicist who sent you the review copy, he or she will be very grateful. publicity is a hard job- oftentimes journalists and reviewers are mean when a publicist just calls to follow up! so just being nice about getting review copies is more than enough gratification for the poor overworked flack who sent them :)

Jemima said...


Thank you for your comment! It's an interesting question, and an important one, isn't it - this whole free book business? I'm glad people are talking about it.

Jemima said...


I'm so glad you enjoy my blog! Thank you! This information helps put me at ease, though I still feel a responsibility to review. (But to review honestly, of course! :) )

©2007-2010 Aniko at