When I review a book, I receive them from one of three places:
1. I purchase them myself either new or used.
2. A friend or family member gives me the book as a gift.
3. A publisher, publicist or author sends me the book. In this case, they expect me to keep the book whether I like it or not. It's basically a "gift" for taking the time to read the book and, in my opinion, isn't enough to qualify for compensation.
I never charge for a review. To me, that's a huge no-no. I'm an avid reader and it's what you'll typically find me doing in my spare time, so why not write the review after I'm done reading the book. I do it for the ones I get from No. 1 and 2, as well.
Now, for some reason, the FTC is considering charges against bloggers who don't disclose where they get the books they review. A quick peek around book review blogs will turn up a variety of comments on this subject.
I, for one, do not consider a free book as payment to guarantee a "positive review." I'm not going to give some novel "5 books" unless it truly deserves it. Yes, I may recommend my readers try a book for themselves, but it's up to them whether they do or not and it's up to them if they like the book if they do read it.
It's totally illogical to me ... does it also mean I'm breaking the law if I read a good book I bought and tell my sister or best friend they should try it, too, just because I'm a blogger.
The FTC has even taken to comparing our reviews to newspaper book reviews. OK, I'm a freelance writer and I do articles for the local newspaper on a regular basis. Whenever a book comes in for review, the publisher or editor tends to give it away to whoever likes that sort of genre. Very few reviews are actually done unless it's relevant to the local readers.
That said, I have several wonderful books on my shelves that I got from papers I've worked at in the past. Did the publishing company expect the newspaper to return them if a review wasn't printed? Absolutely not!
And I'm sure those that send books to bloggers feel the same way. Many of us simply don't post a review if the book is that bad. I myself can always find something good to say about a book because even though I didn't particularly care for it, another reader may love it. It's all about taste in genres.
Well, if I have to print a disclaimer every time I post a review, then so be it. Do I like it? No. It's a waste of my time and my readers' time. But if it will keep everyone happy, I'll do it.
I'm not really sure what recourse we bloggers have. Will writing to our senators and-or representatives help? I'm not sure, but I suppose it's worth a try.