If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call?
If a book doesn’t get press, who ya gonna call?
Err, bookbusters! That is, bloggers, Goodreads reviewers, Amazon reviewers, Shelfari, book tweeters, Instagrammers… There is a plethora of social media venues.
The freebie novelty wears off fast. Nowadays, I have a strict policy: say no to review copies unless Margaret Drabble offers to send me her new book via drone from Amazon. (Ha ha!) But I am often offered books by unknowns that are crazily inappropriate for my blog. For instance, a publicist recently offered a review copy of a novel about “a black market organ broker, arranging the sales of kidneys and livers from donors who need the money to recipients whose time on the transplant list is running out.” Does that sound like me.?
Even the crustiest blogger (that would be I) agrees occasionally to help a publicist or writer promote a book. (It usually sounds promising on the press release.) Okay, they’d rather have Janet Maslin write about it, but she shows no interest in Demigod Down (The Succubus Executioner # 2). I write to my contact, “I’m afraid I have to turn this one down, but think of me again.” Yes! I got out of it. But “think of me again”? What if she wants me to review The Succubus Executioner 3? I am a bit fractious when I must read books I dislike. Even when I accepted a review copy of the award-winning H Is for Hawk, I thought it was of shocking poor quality. Maybe Janet Maslin would have liked it. Maybe she did like it. I wasn’t very nice about it.
When you accept freebies, you can find yourself doing unpaid PR. The freebie road can deflect you from reading the books you have chosen to read and cherish. One of my favorite bloggers used to write about the classics. Now she reads freebie romances, mysteries, and other very light books. Freebies have changed her as a reader.
At Goodreads, there are hundreds of giveaway books, but there is much competition for them. Most of the books seem to be romances or SF, but there are also cookbooks and poetry. Here is a brief sampling.
- 10 copies available of Demigod Down (The Succubus Executionser # 2) by Kim Schubert, 500 requesting
- 1 copy of The Calling (Finite Faerie Chronicle #) by Joseph Eastwood, 1009 people requesting
- 1 copy of Homemade Sourdough: Mastering the Art and Science of Baking with Starters and Wild Yeast by Ed wood, 738 people requesting
You can also get free books at TLC Book Tours, where bloggers agree to write a book review and host an author interview. The site says, “As a host, you agree to receive a free book from one of our touring authors (who doesn’t like a free book??), read it and post a review on a date scheduled in advance for the author to “stop” at your blog.”
You know who doesn’t like a free book? ??
Netgalley is the best option for bloggers and consumer reviewers seeking free books. You can request books from a huge selection, and there are even reprints of Rosamund Lehmann, Mavis Gallant, and Vance Bourjailly from Open Road Media. I was invited by a publicist to join Netgalley three years ago, but I could not download any of the books on my Nook. You really need a Kindle for Netgalley. The Kindle receives the books instantly
In George Orwell’s humorous essay, “Confessions of a Book Reviewer,” he explains why he dreads reveiwing on demand books about subjects he knows nothing about.
Half hidden among the pile of papers is a bulky parcel containing five volumes which his editor has sent with a note suggesting that they ‘ought to go well together’. …Yesterday in a resolute moment he ripped the string off it and found the five volumes to be Palestine at the Cross Roads, Scientific Dairy Farming, A Short History of European Democracy (this one 680 pages and weighs four pounds), Tribal Customs in Portuguese East Africa, and a novel, It’s Nicer Lying Down, probably included by mistake.
Do you sympathize? He did get paid, though.
Ah, those were the days.
I have to agree with you about so much of this – I get quite a few requests from authors asking me to read and review their books, and they are not good fits for my blog. My blog makes it clear that I don’t read ‘romance’ yet each week I recieve at least one request to review a romance! (usually paranormal)
I am a member of netgalley, but I use it to read books that are in the genres I enjoy – books I may not have heard of but I would borrow from the library. I’ve had two ARC’s actually mailed to me, one was a request on my behalf for a non-fiction book and the other one was randomly sent to me – and I never reviewed the one that was randomly sent – I viewed it as an annoyance, that ARC could have been given to someone who would read & review, and there isn’t really anyone in my local area I could give it to!
I’m sometimes worried that free books will change my reading/blogging habits – and for me it is not because there is an allure of free books – I can afford to buy my own or use the library – but because the YA and romance genres are much more popular – so people are more likely to read and respond to reviews and posts about these genres. Personally I try to read, like and sometimes comment on as many blogs as possible that post about alternative genres, because I think that there isn’t much diversity of genres in the blogosphere.
/end post length rant! Sorry for leaving an essay, but your post really did get me thinking about ARC’s and the way they impact reading!
I like your essay! It sounds as though you’re on the right track with your judicious consideration of freebies. I do know what you mean about alternative genres. I am an SF fan! But too many free books can be a burden.
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It’s easy to slip into the habit of accepting any book offered, but I’m trying to be strict…. Having said that, much of what gets offered is not really stuff I’d read. I was quite enthusiastic about Bookbridgr in this country who link with publishers and offer review copies, but they’ve turned out to be very glitchy and more often than not your requests get ignored. However, my limited experience with NetGalley is good – and as I have a tablet with a Kindle app, I can read them. Nothing will beat a tree book though!
Bookbridgr does sound like Netgalley. What a nice name! The great thing about sites like these is that you can browse and find books that interest you. But, yes, tree books are the best! In general I stick to the trees, too.
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