The End of Swag!

I was going to just post a response on the LA Times blog thing, but apparently I have to be a member of facebook to sign into the LA Times to comment. Since I’m not a member of facebook, and don’t plan to be unless the necessity for networking makes it a must, I figured I’d haul my response over here to my own blog. Carolyn Kellogg has a blog up at the LA Times about a book publisher bringing the thunder on book bloggers.  The publisher was William Morrow, and they are essentially telling book bloggers that they’re no longer going to ship a crap ton of free books to them to review, that they’ll get a list of books they can review and that they can review three, and that it would be appreciated if the reviewer would sorta, you know, get the review up within a month or so of the book being published. Apparently, this has not gone over so well, and Ms. Kellogg links to a few bloggers all up in arms over it.

Now, I don’t get anything from anybody. If I review a book,  I’ve either bought it, taken it out of the library, or stolen it from my girlfriend. What’s more, I don’t see how William Morrow is making any unseemly demands with this, other than an implied feeling that they are looking at bloggers as extensions of their marketing department rather than as critics. If they want us to work as extensions of their marketing department, put us on their payroll, lord knows I could use the extra income.  However, their limiting bloggers on the books they want to review and asking them to do it in a timely fashion seems more than fair. If they publish a new mystery novel, it’s better to have as many people talking about it as possible when it’s actually published, and not three months later. After all, you’re getting the book for nothing. While they may not treat the Times this way, face it, most of us don’t have the exposure or power of a good review in the NYT.

Truth is, I don’t think any publisher would be doing this if they didn’t think they’d be saving/making money on it in the long run. William Morrow might have just looked at this and figured that the money they shell out in sending out gobs of freebies to people who might not even bother reading the damn things is a waste.  Maybe whoever compiles internal research for them figured they benefited more just from positive reviews on Amazon than any reviews from blogs. Or maybe their sales just haven’t changed a whole helluva lot since before book blogging took off to now.

On a personal level, I don’t see why someone just wouldn’t go to the library, take out whatever book they want, review whatever book they please, however they please. It’s still free, it doesn’t kill your shelf space, and you don’t have to feel like you’re having to give a good review to this or that, or any review at all.  Your independence is your power.

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