Monday, August 27, 2012

Publishing's Dirty Little Secret


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?_r=1&smid=fb-share

I love books and read voraciously. hardcover, softcover, electronic on my Kindle, iPad2 and Mac Book Pro. My sources include Book of the Month Club 2, Amazon.com, Costco, the occasional galley courtesy of Bookbrowse.com and electronic galleys from NetGalley.com.

The galleys that I read are provided with the proviso that I will write a review on Bookbrowse, Amazon, BOMC2, and my Blog. There is no requirement that the review be positive - only that the review is an honest opinion. As a consumer, I rely upon the reviews of real readers to give me an assessment and an opinion of a book. 

This story from the New York Times (link above) exposes the dirty little secret of today's publishing industry.....people are paid to provide positive 5 star reviews of newly published books. Some of the reviews are for self published tomes; others are for books published by smaller houses.  Many of the "reviewers" do not even read the book. They use stock language to praise a book and lure unsuspecting   readers into buying it.

For years publishers have used blurbs by reviewers with newspaper critics and other authors to give promote new books. I always took those blurbs with a grain of salt. However, in my naiveté, it never occurred to me that many of the reviews I've read on Amazon.com and other sites have been totally and completely fabricated. 

The one site I do trust is Bookbrowse.com. The members pay to belong and are occasionally given the opportunity to review a galley through "First Impressions". It is expected the reviewer will provide a legitimate assessment of the story, writing, plot developments and readability. 

I've been blessed with the opportunity to review some galleys through Bookbrowse and a couple of other sources. They don't pay for the reviews. I agree to review the books because I am afforded the chance to read books I might otherwise have not purchased, to encourage people to read a good story, to draw a potential reader to a new author or a story that might not otherwise be promoted, because reading is fundamental - to steal from a public service announcement from my youth. 

There is something almost sacred to me about book reviews. Week after week I've read the book reviews in the New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and yes - the reviews posted by Amazon.com readers.  The reading public relies upon these reviews to make informed decisions about the quality and readability. Fortunately, Amazon.com has discovered the source of some of these shams  and has removed them from its site. Kudos! And kudos to the New York Times for exposing this scam.

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