Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yet Another Question About HK

Is Our Dear Harriett immune not only from Amazon rules (and general accountability) but also from the latest FTC requirement?? In short, the FTC recently announced that reviewers must clearly state that they're getting free review copies (in whatever form) from the publishers. It makes sense. The FTC wants readers of reviews to be able to differentiate "I bought this book with my hard-earned cash and now that it's too late for me, here's what I think," from "I got this book from a publisher and, man, am I glad I didn't lay out my own money for it or I'd be even more ticked."

I've been reviewing for years. I started at a website and then went off on my own and started my own blog. Publishers and authors send me review copies all the time. It's noted at the top of my blog, on the front page, that my copies are provided by publishers. What is actually says is "Books provided by publishers and authors." It also says "Fashions By Dicker & Dicker of Beverly Hills" so sue me for having a sense of humor.

Just a random sampling of HK's many reviews posted lately show NO SIGN of this disclaimer. I think it's obvious to anyone with a functioning brain stem that she's not paying to purchase every copy of every book ever published. They're being provided to her, for free. Which is fine. But why is she immune to this rule, too? Or is she? Is this what will finally trip her up and get her faux-reviews banished? Or at least marked as 'not a paying customer review' on Amazon?

PS, because lots of people ask... No publisher or publicist or marketing person has EVER, EVER asked for a 'good' review. They ask if I'd like to review something. The content of the review is totally up to me. I've reviewed a few real stinkers, and said so, while keeping in mind how my Mom taught me to be polite while still being clear. And I've reviewed a few great things. Most books fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Great, bad, indifferent, I've never heard a single word of complaint about what is, in the end, my personal opinion about any given book. (I did have one author flip out on me and threaten to blacklist me for a mediocre review. I just forwarded her emails to the publicist who was sending out her books. I never heard another word from the author, and I still get every new release of hers, in hardcover, which I never review. Because I am that petty.)


Malleus said...

So what's your interest in that? I mean in getting these books.

As far as Harriet's apparent immunity, well, consider our current recession. Where were the government oversight agencies? They do exist. Also, if I'm not mistaken, for the most of the 20th century the FBI position on organised crime was that it didn't exist. Probably because their boss liked to dress in women's clothes and didn't want to invite trouble by noticing the obvious. Maybe the current FTC boss also likes to do something like that, and Harriet has a tasteful little dossier on him, with pictures. Who knows.

Deborah Hern said...

I kinda hope the FTC has a little dossier on HK, but that's probably too much to ask. If you check around review-land, almost every blog/site that reviews books on a regular basis has the FTC-requested disclaimer up. I just think it's strange that HK doesn't even bother with knee-jerk compliance.

Color me dense, but I don't understand your question. What's my interest in getting the books? You mean why do I review? Or why do I accept books?

I review because I love to read and I hate buying a book thinking it's one thing and then being disappointed. Other than that, I'm just a chimp with an opinion and a keyboard. I accept the books because it's a free way to feed by reading habit. Did that answer the question??

Malleus said...

Yes, it does, thanks. Although it's gotta be the hell of a reading program: reading books that they want reviewed. I'd prefer to read what I want, not what someone needs reviewed. Unless there's a significant overlap, of course.

Deborah Hern said...

Fortunately for me, there is a huge overlap. Sometimes, they'll send me something that I'm just not interested in at all... and I don't review it. And no one ever complains. It's clear that they know that no one reads/likes everything published. Except our HK, of course.

The stuff I don't read or will never read again either gets recycled (for ARCs, galleys, etc) or, if they're finished for-sale copies, they go to family, friends, or the USO.

Re: the reading program... YES. Sometimes it just feels like work. But it's not exactly digging ditches, so I can't complain.

Malleus said...

Good for you ! :-)