Lovely New FTC Regulation

This regulation doesn’t really affect this blog much (mostly because any free books I’ve received came from conferences, and I’ve noted that, so I only have to go back and add “free” to a few of them. And I’ve already stated my reasons for reviewing, which did not include [nor will ever] writing reviews to make publishers happy.)(I really need to start using footnotes instead of parenthesis.) But still. A tad bit ridiculous if you ask me….but, please, read and make your own decisions! (And read the comments, and further commentary about this, because I am barely qualified to generate any smart comments myself.)

So quick poll: If you read a book review are you worried about where the book came from? In a blog? In a magazine? Is there a difference?

Also, do you think it should be transparent where books (or other items reviewed in blogs) come from? Or should the author make their reviewing “guidelines” known? Both? Neither?

Just curious!

Happy reading all!

~Kell

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2 responses to “Lovely New FTC Regulation

  1. I know many people will strongly disagree with this. And I haven’t read the brief to see what the details are or anything. But. I will say, that I think the FTC thing is overall a good thing for the blogging community, and a lot of it has to do with the differences between blogging and print media.

    When I see a print review of a book (an increasingly uncommon occurence these days), I think of it as an artifact, the product of a machine (this is not to say anything bad about pro book reviewers). It can be useful in the same way that, say, an article in the New York Times is useful – it provides informatino in a staid, predictable way that is easy to digest. It’s cold. Reliable. Bland. Even when it’s well written, because it’s nowhere near me, and it’s being written from a professional standpoint that is meant to be objective and well-reasoned. I know there is a bias in it, of COURSE. IT’s a HUGE bias in fact. But, it’s a bias that’s easy to predict, and that frankly matters very little, because I’m not looking at it is a real opinion anyway. It’s a newspaper opinion.

    A blog is different, because a blog is a person. A blog is a community. A blog is like when I went to high school, and sat at the same lunch table every day. You know people. They mean something to you – and even if you’re reading a blog fo rthe first time, you tend to believe they COULD mean something to you, if it works out. You’re meeting a person. Not a business.

    Of course, this means when a blog IS a business, or when it lets a business inside, it’s confusing. Frustrating. It’s like finding out that one of your friends at the lunch table is getting special rewards from the principal for sitting there. Maybe they’d sit there anyway, sure. But when they talk about the principal, no matter how good-hearted they are, it changes things – and if they don’t TELL you about their relationship, it feels dishonest, even like a betrayal.

    Now, I don’t think 95% of book bloggers fall under this purview. I mean, sure, I know y’all get free books from publishers. But, if I’m coming to meet you for the first time, I’d still rather that you tell me. Because, you’re a person, and people are diverse, and I don’t know what to expect, they way I do know, when I come in to a magazine.

    Besides, in the grand scheme of things, saying ‘it’s not fair because print media doesn’t have to do it,’ is selling ourselves short as bloggers. I mean, is that our highest goal? To be as honest as print media? I’d rather be more honest… and now is the best time to build that tradition of disclosure, now when we don’t NEED it yet, because the community isn’t big and popular enoguh that it’s a problem. Once it IS big and popular? There’s too many businesses with their fingers in it, with an interest in lobbying to be allowed to pretend that they’re regular people just like you or I, and it’ll be too late to shut the box.

    • You make some very valid points that I hadn’t thought about. I’m kind of on the fence about the whole thing. Like I mentioned, it really doesn’t apply to this blog. The only “free” books I’ve ever received have been from conferences (that technically I did pay for). And a couple of months back, when putting where you got the book in a post was a hot topic, I started to do that. So I only had a few posts that I had to edit about it.

      I think there are two worrisome parts of this issue, personally. (There may be more, but I’m most def. not an eloquent enough writer or thinker to do them justice) The first and foremost is the high cost of the fine. I’m not at all an expert on how high fines should be, but that seems a little ridiculous for linking to Amazon. I link to Amazon currently, not because I necessarily want people to buy from there (I’m not an affiliate, so I don’t receive any kickbacks for the link, and anyway I’d prefer an indie bookstore, honestly), but I do want people to look at more reviews than mine. And an Amazon link is far more trusted than some random link to another blog/bookstore. Plus, it’s an excellent source for information about the book. Librarians use it. There’s excerpts, links to different editions, etc. So much more than a store.

      The second thing that worries me about it is the vagueness of the whole thing. I read at least four other articles on this before I felt I had some sort of hold on what exactly was being expected now. And that vagueness (not to mention the price of the fine) is going to stop people from posting their thoughts and reviews on books. Even if they aren’t in any way violating the regulation. Which is sad to me, because when push comes to shove, I love reading people’s thoughts and opinions on books – whether they’ve received the book free or not.

      So, basically, I’m understanding but apprehensive.
      ~Kell

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