There are dozens of people, like myself, who blog about books. As part of my hobby, publishers send books to me for free for review on my site. It doesn’t happen often, but I get enough of them — enough that my bookshelves are starting to fill up in my tiny apartment. But some of the more serious bloggers are on blogger lists with the publishers, and have books sent to them constantly, generally about a month before the books’ official release.
But now William Morrow — a division of HarperCollins — is starting to define rules for these bloggers, most of which are not paid and do it for the love of books. According to the L.A. Times, William Morrow sent out a letter to bloggers back in December, explaining that they must read and review the books on their site within a month of receiving. They were told, in a very passive-aggressive letter, that if they didn’t, they would no longer be able to accept free books from the publisher:
If it isn’t already clear, WE LOVE THAT YOU LOVE OUR BOOKS! And to allow us to continue to offer free copies and free shipping to you committed book reviewers, we will be tracking how many reviews we receive from you. If we notice that you request books but aren’t posting your comments or sending us the link, we may suspend your ability to receive review offers from us. We know you’re busy bloggers -– if you don’t think you’ll be able to post a review within a month, please pass on that offer so we can continue to offer you free books in the future!
How is this fair, when most of these bloggers — as I mentioned earlier — are doing this as a hobby? This is not an obligation. Blogger outrage resulted in William Morrow sending out another email the next day that promised “Not posting a review within a time period will not earn anyone a suspension from the list.”
So what was that all about? First, William Morrow sets guidelines, then takes them back. I wonder if the guidelines initially were set because the publisher could not afford to give away so many books. By setting guidelines, it sets some up for failure and would ensure that fewer books would be given away. But ultimately, the giveaways are then blogged about. Readers come across the reviews, and buy the books. Doesn’t giving away books to bloggers ultimately lead to more positive sales? To set guidelines for book blogging is completely baffling. Publishers should be happy to get the exposure at all. The authors I’ve worked with in the past certainly are.