James Long at Speculative Horizons posted yesterday on not starting a blog for the purpose of getting free books. He was responding to a post by Dear Author on how to get into book reviewing as a blogger. Mr. Long complained that you shouldn't start a book review blog for the purpose of getting free books. I agree.
I disagree with his idea that book blogging and reviewing should only be done as a hobby. James has the opinion that "The minute a blog stops being a hobby (if it ever was one) then it becomes something else, and this possibly leads to issues relating to integrity and impartiality."
When I started this blog it was to give the authors I interview more publicity. It was to allow readers to use the themed reading lists I came up with for work. It was to create a platform I could someday use as a published author (still not there). It's been fun, but I run this blog as an extension of my job. Why? Because that's what gets me to post several times a week rather than once or twice a month or whenever I felt like it.
And the more I think of this blog as a part of my job the better my reviews have become. I consider it my responsibility to give honest reviews, even negative reviews for books I didn't like, which I used to shrug off, only wanting to give positive feedback.
But that's an aside. My post topic is ARCs (advance review copies - promotional copies of books sent out before the book is published). The Dear Author post describes how to go about asking for an ARC. Speculative Horizons says you shouldn't expect free books. And he's right. ARCs are not cheap to create (due to their low print runs). Nor are they printed so bloggers can have a free read.
ARCs are for promotional purposes. They are given to people in positions to gain advanced buzz for the books. They are for professional reviewers (at magazines and newspapers), for media personnel (in the hopes of garnering a movie deal), for book buyers and booksellers (because they're the ones physically selling the books). Bloggers have become more important to marketing as conventional papers/magazines reduce the number of reviews they publish. And the more people go to the internet for reviews, the more opportunities book bloggers will have.
Being a book review blogger doesn't entitle you to ARCs. Publishers continue to give promotional copies to those they expect will get them the best returns on their investment, blogs with decent view stats included. If you're lucky enough to get one, be considerate and review the book in a timely manner. But if you're reviewing books solely in the hopes of getting them for free, then maybe you need a different type of blog.