If there's a discussion that's not new to us in the book blogosphere, it's the one about whether or not review copies influence reviews. Should bloggers disclose when a book has been received for review? Etc. so on and so forth, you know the story.
So anyway, one time when this came up, Wendi and I thought it would be cool to come up with a sort of Book Bloggers Code of Ethics, something simple that we could all agree on that would let people know where we stand.
Well that discussion went nowhere when we realized that we couldn't agree on what it should mean.
But the issue keeps coming up and it's certainly being dealt with in the greater blogosphere as well.
So when Hannah pointed out this website to me, I took a look, chatted it over with some folks on Twitter and decided to sign.
Here are some terms I am publicly agreeing to stand by. I like them.
By displaying the Blog with Integrity badge or signing the pledge, I assert that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is important to me.
I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.
I believe in intellectual property rights, providing links, citing sources, and crediting inspiration where appropriate.
I disclose my material relationships, policies and business practices. My readers will know the difference between editorial, advertorial, and advertising, should I choose to have it. If I do sponsored or paid posts, they are clearly marked.
When collaborating with marketers and PR professionals, I handle myself professionally and abide by basic journalistic standards.
I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.
I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.
This does mean a change for my blog. While my review policy tells you that I accept a huge number of review copies, my individual reviews haven't. From now on, when I rate a book and let you know of any potentially offensive material, I will also include the source of the book.
Why sign the pledge?
Because I believe in proactive measures rather than reactive measures when possible. This issue won't go away and this is a clear and public statement that when I accept review copies, I will let you know and I'll still give you honest feedback. Also, I like some of the other terms of the pledge...like crediting sources. (by the way this is a criteria for judging in the BBAW awards)
I hold myself Accountable, why do I need a Pledge?-- Well, I'm not going to bring box cutters on airplanes anytime soon, and yet I still submit to a search at the airport. And I'm willing to sign contracts to give my word...why not a little internet pledge about integrity? It's a public unified effort to show that these are standards I adhere to. I don't think I have anything to lose by signing.
I Review all Books the Same Regardless of the Source -- Then signing the pledge shouldn't be a problem. In fact, the more information we give up front, the better. It leaves no room for doubt to grow. I'll never forget a blog comment I read where the blogger stated how shocked they felt when they realized bloggers were getting books as review copies. They felt deceived, even though I'm sure no blogger meant to deceive them. Signing this pledge doesn't negate our integrity, it reenforces it. Besides, the sad truth is that bloggers have admitted over and over that they review books received for review differently. Sometimes they take more care with those reviews, sometimes they are gentler, sometimes they cut certain language out of the review. There is a difference in the way bloggers review these books and it's time we recognized it.
I get that some of you aren't going to be ready to sign this pledge or make this change. I used to feel that it didn't matter, but it has become clear to me that it does. I'd love to see more book bloggers proactive about this! Feel free to go sign the pledge now!