As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, Pam Coughlan (who blogs as MotherReader) published Important News for Bloggers. It is a thought-provoking post, that at its core asks bloggers who publish book reviews to think about integrity and transparency.
The publisher-reviewer relationship is a perennial topic of discussion. The explosion of online review outlets, growing acceptance of those venues as credible, and government-run consumer monitoring interest have added an extra dimension. It is an interesting discussion. Publishers and authors have sent books to reviewers for ages. Back then, the reviewer was, most likely, a paid employee of a newspaper or magazine. The people who read the review paid for a subscription to the product that published it. For myriad reasons, that review model is dying. The obsessive interest in social networking has changed the ways producers (in this case authors, publishers, publicists) can introduce new products. So while many of today’s reviewers do this “freelance” (emphasis on the word f-r-e-e!), others have garnered sponsorship.
Important News doesn’t choose sides or recommend a particular model, it just offers food for thought based on recent (ironically) traditional media reports. Essentially, it is up to each of us to decide what works best for us — and be honest and up front about it.