Friday, July 31, 2009

Is the only reason we blog to receive free books?

We've been challenged to show what the source of our books was for our last 20 reviews.

I have listed the number of reviews that appear on my blog each month this year and the source of the reviewed books.

Jan - 8 reviews/2 arcs from the authors/3 library books/and 3 guest reviews- their own arcs
Feb - 0
April - 3 reviews/3 library books
May - 0
June - 3 reviews/2 librarybooks/and 1 guest review
July - 6 reviews/4arcs, 3 through LibraryThing, 1 from a request from a publicist/2 library books

So for the last 20 reviews; 6 arcs/10 library books/4 guest reviewers with their own arcs.
We'll call it half and half, although 4 of those arcs got at least two blog reviews each.

The figures will reflect that at the end of the year I stopped requesting arcs because of illness. This includes turning down unsolicited requests, even from authors and publicists I had worked with before. I receive one or two requests to review every week.

In the first week of July I received notice from LibraryThing that I was delinquent on several reviews for arcs going back a year, and telling me beside each title to "Check out the list of books you've won and get reviewing". So I've banged out several for the first time in months. Three for them and one for a lovely publicist who patiently waited since January. I am grateful for being well enough to write reviews at the moment. But I have a serious quarrel with the word "won" that LT uses toward the arcs they give out. Even the notes from the publishers that arrive through the LT program tell me I "won" the copy they've sent me. Mind you, sometimes I get a real copy, even a hardcover now and again, and I always acknowledge that in my reviews.
When did an arc become a "win" for the reviewer? Spending several hours reading an untried book of possibly dubious quality, and two more hours trying to be complimentary about the experience isn't a win for me-it's work. And it cost me a day or two of my life to do it.

Marie, the Boston Bibliophile posed the question: “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?”

Let the facts show that I turn down more requests to review than I accept. That I blog to get and to give good reading recommendations. My personal library contains 2000 books, with 400 novels as yet unread, so I give away my arcs after reviewing them. And if people stop offering me books to review I would spend more time reading tried and true literature and discussing it with other readers on my blog.

What do you think about this suggestion of lack of integrity (King Rat made that comment to Marie) on the part of those of us who accept arcs and blog about them?

Other bloggers on this subject:

The Boston Bibliophile
Kittling Books
Hey Lady! Whacha Reading'?


  1. I started blogging about books long before I ever received a review copy, and while I enjoy receiving them and learning about new books and authors, I'd continue blogging even if I never received another. It really doesn't matter to me whether a book being reviewed is an ARC, a library copy, or a book that's been sitting on the shelf for years. Even though I do accept review copies, turning down more requests than I accept, I don't let review copies dictate my reading. Given that I'm selective about which review copies I accept, I'm always reading something I want to read.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  2. In England it is very difficult to get review copies, so my blog is based purely on the books I buy or get from the library. So I definitely don't blog to get free books. Chance would be a fine thing.

  3. I started blogging in 2007 and focused on my own books and library books because those are the ones I had.

    I can't afford to buy too many books per year, which is why I turned to blog reviews in the first place. Those reviews help me determine which books to spend my hard earned cash on.

    There are more ARCs in my review listings. I like to receive free books, but would I stop blogging, heck no! Besides, I only accept review copies I think I would enjoy.

    I completely agree with this statement: "My personal library contains 2000 books, with 400 novels as yet unread, so I give away my arcs after reviewing them. And if people stop offering me books to review I would spend more time reading tried and true literature and discussing it with other readers on my blog."

    I have a similarly large library of unread books.

  4. I wish this didn't have to be such a big deal! I've read and reviewed 6 ARCs/review copies that were either solicited to me or that I requested (6 out of 38). I guess that's 15% for me if my math is correct.

    Until this past month I had actually stopped accepting all requests for six months, so some of those books are left over from last year. I LOVE reading from my shelves, and if ARCs go away, I'll continue to blog the same way that I have been.

    Honestly? Buying the latest and greatest book doesn't appeal to me like it might have once upon a time. I don't have the money to buy expensive hardcover books, so I pay more attention to the reviews of books I've read or books that I have on my shelf or books that I can find used very easily.

    I certainly hope blogging wouldn't change without review copies being offered. Afterall, there are other ways to get books! That's the great thing about them--they're ubiquitous.

  5. I have reduced my number of ARC's a lot too. This year I bought almost 50 books already from my own money. Sometimes, I think if I would not accept ARCs, it would give me even more time to read and review books from my TBR. I have now decided to alternate ARC's and TBR copies so that there is a balance and I also manage to read books that I always wanted to read.

    I blogged about books even before receiving ARC's and it was still as much fun and rewarding.

  6. Hey Sandra, thanks for visiting my blog. I added you to my blogroll and I will follow your blog:)

    Since I am new to this whole blogging world and to librarything, I haven't won any books yet nor did I receive any for review. I purchase the books I like to read and then talk about them on my blog. However, I have requested some on librarything (but only those that sounded interesting to me). I only read books that interest me.

  7. When I started my blog, I had no idea I could get free books, so I definitely don't do it for that. (Anyone who blogs for free books is working hard for them, in my opinion.) That's not to say that I don't enjoy getting books before the publication date, but I would continue to blog if the books quit coming.

  8. It's always interesting (for me) to see where people get their books. Frankly, I don't care what people's percentages are, so long as they enjoy the books they're reading. :)

  9. I am sure you know my answer :) I don't really recieve any ARC's, so I review all the books that i have bought!

  10. I find the LT Early Reviewer program to be a fun lottery of sorts ... you "pay" for your ticket/entry with your time, and the "reward" could be a jackpot or a booby-prize, depending on the quality of the book.

    I do agree that the word WON in the notification is misleading; we've agreed to review the book if we're picked for a match. I don't know what would be a better word choice, maybe SELECTED?

    As for the big question ... like you, and your commenters, no, I don't blog to receive free books! I would continue to blog my own books - on my shelves, purchased to add to my home library, borrowed from the public library, borrowed from a friend, etc.

  11. Being new to the blogging community, it's certainly a delight for me to receive a free copy of a book that I specifically requested. I find it flattering, even. However, I doubt that there are many bloggers (if there are any at all) who review books just to get free copies. For one thing, there wouldn't be much point in getting a book for free if your only purpose for reading it is to write a review. That'd be just like work. And I realize that for many of you who's been doing this for some time now, it may sometimes even feel frustrating to have to finish a book that didn't turn out to be something you enjoy.

    It seems to me that many bloggers have somehow developed in themselves almost a sense of duty to the community to comment about upcoming books, and in the process guide others towards a more enjoyable reading experience. I think it's admirable, but it's certainly not for everyone. I, for one, don't like reading books that doesn't suit my taste, and my taste often varies by the day so I even have to shuffle a number of books at time until I finish all of them. I have books that I've even left unfinished for almost a year now. How I wish I had the time. There's so many books I want to read, specially the classics which I feel that I totally missed out on since I didn't pay attention to literature back when I was still in school. But sadly the time I have for reading is barely enough for those I consider must-reads, much less for suggested books. So it wouldn't be a good idea for me to accept unsolicited review copies because they might just get stuck in my shelf for a long while and I'd only feel guilty about it. For now what I do is I only request review copies if it's a book that I want to read immediately but isn't yet available here in the Philippines. Thankfully, I've had good experience so far. I actually can't believe how publishers and authors themselves can be so generous :)

    Anyway, there's this certain joy that I get when I find a good book in the store and buy it for myself. It's like finding treasure. And well yes, a good book really is a treasure after all. So it's satisfying for me (and sometimes even therapeutic) to be shopping for books :)

  12. I started blogging in order to have a site, separate from others, on which i can review the books i read. i read slowly. i always state if the book being reviewed is a ARC...i don't receive nearly as many of THOSE as i used to..but have more than enough Others to keep me busy....ARCs still trickle in, though

    i agree about Library Thing..i think they're getting a bit to "bossy"...and patronizing..but i haven"t WON anything from them in quite a while....and only "owe" them one review...oh, well

    thanks for starting this discussion, by the way


  13. *Anna,*bermudaonion-I blogged about books and reading for years too without knowing bloggers could get arcs. My first was an offer out of the blue from a publicist-last August. That's how I found out about them being available to bloggers.
    I don't think non readers understand readers, I mean the kind of readers we are-it's our main pastime. It takes a passionate reader to know that the point about book blogging and benefit is moot. We just love books and talking about what we read. You couldn't stop us if you tried.
    *Vivienne,*Veens - I didn't know it was so difficult or rare to get review copies where you each live. I hope that changes for you soon.
    *Serena- Thanks for telling us about your library. I'm turning sixty and I joined the book of the month club at sixteen when I had my own money. People often think I'm exaggerating-until they see my home-books in every room, though I call a halt at the bathroom. My LT catalogue has over 3000 ( I record library books read too) so I'm being conservative in my guess. I never catalogued my cookbooks as some do, reference library, my Latin and Greek classics, medical books, or my husband's and son's libraries, which are nothing to sneeze at. Anyone who reads for several decades doesn't want or need a free book.
    *Trish, *violetcrush-A lot of us have stopped or severely curbed requesting arcs, despite the fact that offers still arrive in our emails daily. The offers are endless, and I 'd be willing to bet we all turn down more than we accept.
    *Trish, *Dawn- You're right, it is and should be fun, enjoyable. To see where others got their books, or to try for one you really want to read anyway. Even reading and reviewing a book, though it costs us in time, is part of the fun. And it obviously is good for the people selling the books because the offers are coming out of our ears.
    *Mark David- Thank you for repeating that reading and reviewing arcs is work. And reading and reviewing books that are not what we usually read or are of doubtful quality can be drudgery. I too, after 6 months of accepting arcs decided that what I personally choose to read are a better bet for me. And the really good thing about being part of the book blogging community (nicely put by the way) is that you and I can choose not to do the arc thing and still be a respected part of it.
    *Jaydit-Thanks for your input. I think a lot of us had to be seriously delinquent for them to create the new system that keeps track of every single book. I don't mean just one like yourself, I mean people like me, 6 or more owing. They certainly have the right to remind us, we did agree to a review in exchange for the book. And they don't know my health has gotten much worse. But it must be a serious problem because they're suddenly using strongly worded language to get people to produce those reviews. And I didn't start the discussion. Marie, the Boston Bibliophile reacted when one of her commenters questioned the integrity of blogger who accept arcs. She reflected on his comment in the second part of her article about blogging and commercialism. I was just miffed when I read that and responded to the challenge about how many of the books we review are arcs.

    Thank you so much to everyone for your comments and opinions. I think we have a consensus-we blog because we read and wish to talk about it; and we read because we can.

  14. Well, you've taken this challenge upon yourself because I never told anyone to do it; I did it to show to others as well as to myself, what kind of influence review copies were having on my blogging, and to ask what would happen if the well dried up. I don't think KR meant to say that ppl who accept arcs lack integrity- but that it's difficult to prove with blogs that rely heavily on them. Great post though- I appreciate having your input into this conversation.

  15. *True, the discussion sprang from a comment in response to your article. It was Kittling Books or Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin' that invited us to respond by counting up our arcs the way you did.

    King Rat said...

    "One of the reasons I stopped posting giveaway lists was, in addition to it taking up a lot of time, that 80% or more of them were the same pushed books.

    I have a challenge for people who say that getting free books doesn't sway their opinion: go without the free books then. If you don't need em, why are you accepting them? It's not just the like/dislike that is part of your editorial judgment, it's the choice of books. Or if you really want to be getting books in advance of their publication date, donate out of your pocket the cost of the book (as listed in your favorite bookstore) to a charity.

    Blog Tours? Don't get me started. The short version is I won't even read blogs that do them anymore. At a minimum, I know such blogs won't tell me negative things about books. They'll pass them on to another reviewer who will say good things, which is no effing better.


    I thought it questioned the integrity of blog reviewers but perhaps others, like yourself don't.

  16. "we blog because we read and wish to talk about it"--yes, exactly :)

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