Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Sunday Salon: The Book Review Factory and More

A couple of years ago, Thomas Nelson was the first publisher to start an organized system to deal with blogger reviews. They created a program where bloggers could request a book, post a review on their blog and a consumer site, and then post those reviews and get another book. Reviews were required to receive additional review copies. It didn't take me very long to realize, though, that what they really valued were the reviews on a consumer site. I don't think any traffic metrics had to be provided or anything, as I remember looking through their registered blogs when I was organizing a blog tour myself!

They changed the name of the program to Booksneeze (which is a terrible terrible name no matter the philosophy behind it) and tried selling their services to other publishers. A lot of other publishers started similar programs, most notably Waterbrook/Multonomah. I do not review for these publishers through these programs because they simply do not work for me. I can't work with deadlines like this and I don't already post my reviews to Amazon, so it kind of forces me to do something I wouldn't do all for the sake of a review copy. I think these sorts of programs are like book review factories--the publishers don't really have to know anything about the blogs all they care about is that they are getting reviews. And they can easily monitor if a blog is submitting a review on time.

I should mention my mom reviews for these programs and likes them. I do not.

Friday, I got an email from Booksneeze alerting me to some changes. The subject of the email was "Changes for Booksneeze!" which seemed promising, like something exciting was going to be announced. The content was kind of rage inducing for me. From now on, if bloggers want to stay active in the Booksneeze program, they have to review a book for them every 90 days. This doesn't really affect me since I don't review for them, but the concept of it made me really angry. Reviewers should not be made to feel obligated to review books they don't care about in order to stay active in their reviewing program. If 90 days pass and a reviewer doesn't see a book they want to review, that should be okay! I mean after all it could mean the publisher is simply not offering enough good choices. (Back when I did check out Booksneeze this was actually a frequent problem for me, there was always a lot of nonfiction on offer, but not much else) I don't see how it's helpful AT ALL for them to require a review every ninety days though, unless they are simply trying to manipulate reviewers into prioritizing their books. Perhaps that is not their reasoning behind it, but since this is the only explanation they offered "In order to reward our regular and devoted bloggers, we will be asking that our bloggers request a book every 90 days." I'm led to believe it must be. I don't see how suspending the accounts of people who don't request a book every 90 days awards their devoted bloggers at all. I found the email to be insulting and disingenuous. And it does bother me, because we all use the internet and programs like this are means of trying to flood review spaces with content.

Other News

I was really sad to learn of the apparent suicide of Aaron Swartz. I had no idea who he was until I read this New York Times piece. He helped create RSS! Do you know how often I use that? At age 14! Aargh, I've done nothing with my life. Anyway, the piece is really good and just made me so heavy hearted. It talks a bit about how he tried to change the problem of access to knowledge and justice being about the access to money.

The Oscar nominations this year are apparently not so based on books, but Omnivoracious has the breakdown. I don't have any particularly strong feelings on the Oscar nominations, do you?

Reading has once again been light for me this week, but I hope to get some done today.

Let me know how your 2013 is treating you so far!


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