In his Saturday, January 15, 9:40 AM post Dave Black said:
I’ve noticed a trend in the blogosphere. Bloggers have begun posting “reviews” of books they have received gratis from the publishers. Many of these “reviews” look more like short “book notes” than full-fledged reviews. Some are no longer than a brief paragraph or two, and many do not interact with the contents of the book to any degree.
My question is this: Is this being fair to the publishers? They have given you a book, for free, that would possibly have cost you up to 30 or 40 dollars had you purchased it yourself.
Surely these generous publishers deserve better than a book note.
To answer Dave’s question: NO! This is NOT being fair to the publishers or the readers! Anyone can go to Amazon or a publisher’s website and read book blurbs and summaries. For bloggers to offer these is redundant. I think that the publishers who provide the books (free of charge) and the authors who write these books deserve some kind of interaction from those reviewing them. This doesn’t mean that every review has to launch into heavy criticism, but if it does then tell us why you’re critical of the author or his/her point(s), and then offer a solution to the perceived problems if you see one in sight. And if there is no criticism and all we get is praise then tell us why you liked the book so much. What was it about the author’s writing style, argument, or whatever that made you love the book? It’s not rocket surgery folks.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I suspect that a large part of why we only see short book notes so often is that the “reviewers” haven’t actually read the books they’re writing about. Getting free books is a privilege that comes with a certain amount of responsibility; let’s not shirk our duties people.