So You Want Some Review Books, huh?

In the past month I’ve gotten more than a few emails (and even a couple of comments on the blog) asking me how it is that I get these review books from publishers.  Well, there’s an easy answer. . . Aside from being totally awesome 8) — I asked.  It’s really that simple.  So I’ll take you through my journey into asking for and receiving review books and then give you some pointers so you can do the same.

First of all I had to muster up the nerve to ask the publishers for books.  It never even crossed my mind that you could just contact someone and say, ‘hey, could you send me a free book so I can read it and review it.’  But at the advice of Chris Tilling, this is exactly what I did.

Secondly, I browsed through the various websites for InterVarsity Press, Baker Academic, Eerdmans, Fortress Press, Abingdon Press, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (WJK), Wipf & Stock, Continuum, Kregel, Hendrickson, and Thomas Nelson.  I also contacted one author directly and he was gracious enough to send me his book (Thanks Anthony Buzzard!) and another author sent me the galleys to his book and then was kind enough to contact Kregel on my behalf and ask that they send me the hard copy (thanks Ed Komoszewski!). 

Thirdly, once I found books that I was interested in I sent emails to each of these publishers (well, not Abingdon, I didn’t see anything that caught me there) giving them (1) my name, (2) the name of my blog, (3) a description of my audience, and (4) a list of books I was interested in.

That’s it.  It was that simple.  Some publishers were interested and others were not.  I corresponded with some (i.e., Baker, Fortress) and the others I didn’t.  I was very surprised to receive more than half of the books I did because there was no indication that my emails were even received let alone approved. 

So here’s what I propose for anyone who’s interested in obtaining some review copies.  Do what I did.  Just ask.  If you don’t hear back, don’t get discouraged.  They may have sent them without informing you or they may not be interested.  Either way, you’re no worse for the wear.  Also keep in mind that publishers have budgets and I’m sure that there’s only so much they can do each quarter.  So it might be that they want to send you one but just can’t afford to at the moment. 

Here’s what I propose you don’t do.  Don’t harass them.  Don’t send a bunch of emails asking if they’ve received your requests, trust me, they have.  Don’t beg, begging just shows that you’re more interested in expanding your library for free than you are in gaining them customers.  Don’t feed them any lines or stories.  Just keep it real, tell them who you are and what you’re interested in.  They don’t want to hear that you can’t buy your kids shoes and you need these books to burn in the furnace.  And last but not least, don’t get greedy.  It’s a privilege to be able to receive anything for free, especially books.  Treat it as such and don’t try to milk it. 

B”H

BTW, I’d also note that certain publishers (Baker, IVP, Fortress, Wipf & Stock) have online forms you can fill out and request review copies.  This makes it especially easy.  Happy hunting.

Update: See Jim West thrash me and my comment in repsonse here.

8 thoughts on “So You Want Some Review Books, huh?

  1. It wasn’t so bad. I managed to keep all the snot in my nose and tears in my eyes for that one. BTW, I appreciate the prefatory compliments before giving me my public thrashing. ;)

  2. I would suggest too, actually having book reviews on your blog so if and when a publisher looks over your blog they will actually take you seriously and not think you are just out to build a library or keep the house warm….. (At least I think it would help).

  3. nick–

    would we know what your review was going to be like by how you treated the book? if you had taken off the publisher’s dustjacket and puton one of those temporary soft velvety latcjhook thingys, would we assume the review would be favorable? if you read the book in the tub with a beer in one hand and the phone nearby, would we assume the review would be unfavorable?

    brian–

    how do you keep the house warm with books?

    oh…..

    the woodstove….

    i get it.

  4. BTW the review copies often offered via the websites and so on are not generally provided with the expectation that one will WRITE a review, but rather that faculty will review the book to decide whether or not to use it in a course.

  5. Brian,

    That sounds like a good idea.

    Scott,

    Wouldn’t the second option be a sign that the review would be favorable? ;)

    Chris,

    Generally speaking, exam copies are only offered to professors. Most of the websites say that they’ll be 50% off unless they are adopted for a course in which 10 or more are ordered — in that case, they become free and if they are not adopted they can be returned within 30 days at no charge.

    For folks like me, we have to go with the review copies, and those are expected to be reviewed. Bloggers are considered “media” and the publicists ask us to send them copies of/links to our reviews of the books they send.

  6. Full disclosure: as the online publicist for InterVarsity Press, what your man has posted here is right on!

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