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October 05, 2009



I review books for 5Minutesforbooks.com, and I guess I always just assumed it was a given that as book reviewers, we receive books from publishing houses. Will newspaper reviewers have to run a similar disclaimer above every book review that's printed??


Every review I write, I always state if I received the book from the publisher, author, etc. To me, it's really no big deal, to be honest, and say you got a product for free when reviewing it. I wouldn't feel right otherwise. However, I am Canadian so this rule doesn't apply to me.

How much money are they going to waste tracking down bloggers they think are breaking US rules only to find that they live in different countries?? Really it's just a big waste of money. The US can't tell me to follow its rules. A country can't impose national restrictions on the internet, which is a global international community. Not unless, you handle it like China and other communist countries and restrict internet access altogether.

Kara (Tardisgrl)

Just read the NYT article, and then the comments afterwards. Was it just me, or did the comments sound like bloggers are held in very low esteem as a bunch of cowboys schleping for free stuff?

david e

I don't see this holding up over time. The enforcement element of the rules is going to be difficult if not impossible. In order for the FTC to take action they'll actually have to show some cause or reason or else it will fail epic in the courts.

As I see it, and have stated elsewhere, this is similar to the FCCs obscenity standards, which are in place so they can act on them when someone complains. The FTC may do some high-profile cases to make news and get the word out there to the world, which would have a deterring effect, but how are they going to prove I was "compensated" for reviews? Will they compel publishers to supply lists of everyone they send ARCs to? Will the subpoena libraries to verify claims that half my reviews are, indeed, library books? Bookstores pushed back against handing over sales records to the government following passage of the Patriot Act, does the FTC think it has greater powers to invade our privacy than other branches of government?

Oh, here's something I just thought of: gifts. If I receive an ARC from a publisher unsolicited isn't that more of a gift than compensation? And at what level do gifts have to be recorded as income? Is the FTC going to communicate with the IRS over these records of compensation?

This looks more like policy created by people with a 19th century mindset and no understanding of what is going on in the real 21st century world. And I think we need to figure out how to push back and push back HARD.


David E, you bring up some excellent points about privacy violations. I agree that it's either unenforceable on a practical level, or it becomes an expensive and hugely intrusive boondoggle.

I do have some words of comfort for Kara, however. The people who lash out at bloggers should considering the following from none other than James Madison:

"There is some degree of abuse in the proper use of everything, and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press."

Substitute any other media you like for the word "press" and it's still spot on. Madison would've loved bloggers -- we've restored the wide-open, robust debate he celebrated. He would've hated the barriers to entry created by monopolistic newspaper chains and radio/TV networks. When Madison wrote of the marketplace of ideas, he wasn't talking about having to own $100 million dollar printing plants.

Ooops, I strayed off topic. Thanks for joining the conversation, everyone.

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