Books, sources, integrity

In the last week, several bloggers (including Marie at Boston Bibliophile and Trish at Hey Lady!) have posted the sources of their recent reads. I knew I wanted to tag along, but my head was foggy from a cold most of the week, which slowed me down a lot. I’m finally getting to it today.

I’ve also been part of several conversations in the last week (not for the first time, certainly, although in general I’ve been listening more than I’ve been talking on the subject) about what it means to be a person of integrity in blogging. I’ve posted a few thoughts on the topic below.

The last 20 books I reviewed and their sources:
Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart A blog win, from Anna Lefler.
Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins From the library.
Holy Roller by Julie Lyons Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman From the library.
The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine Won an advance copy on Twitter from @BooksOnTheBrain.
Light from Heaven by Jan Karon From the library.
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon From the library.
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow Emailed pitch, I accepted.
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón From Shelf Awareness.
Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge I saw the authors were giving away review copies on Facebook, and I requested one.
The Wish Maker by Ali Sethi From Shelf Awareness.
Stealing Home by Allison Pittman Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
Saints in Limbo by River Jordan Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Requested this book on BookMooch on the recommendation of a friend, ages ago.
Best Intentions by Emily Listfield Author emailed pitch, I accepted.
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh From the library.
Night by Elie Wiesel Was a Christmas more than a year ago.
Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins From the library.
In this Mountain by Jan Karon From the library.

By the numbers:
A blog win, 1
From the library, 7
Sent by the publisher for blog tour, 4
Won on Twitter, 1
Someone emailed a pitch to me, I accepted, 2
From Shelf Awareness, 2
I requested from publisher/author, 1
In my collection, 2

To break that down:
45 percent were review copies
35 percent were from the library
10 percent were books I won
10 percent were books already in my collection

I’ve been blogging here for more than two years and this set of 20 books contains very nearly the first reviews of books about which I’ve had contact with the publishers. I already do disclose whether a book is a review copy or not in my reviews, at the least through my category usage. These labels appear at the very top of my posts, quite visible.

I don’t feel that this small sample is entirely representative of me and my blog. It is what it is, a sample.

It’s good and useful to disclose the sources of the books I read and review (I review every book I finish). I make a point of saying in my review policy that where I got the book does not impact what I say about it; “I do not guarantee a positive review. My reviews are honest; I also strive to be kind and gentle, as well as fair and balanced, in my reviews.”

I don’t think it’s an ethical problem to get the review book free; journalists and professional reviewers have received free review copies as far back as I know — they’ve received these books and reviewed them generally without specifically disclosing that the book was provided at no cost (although it was generally known, I think) — without calling into question their personal integrity. Review copies are not and should not be regarded as compensation.

I won’t always disclose the source of my books in as much detail as I have in this post. That said, I will continue to disclose the source of my books. I don’t have anything to hide.

In related news, I’ve signed the Blog with Integrity pledge. This isn’t anything big; I hope you already find me honest and respectful, a person of integrity, regardless of the badge. Blogging, as all things in life, should be done with personal integrity. If you see/read of me doing something suspect, please email me.

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6 responses to “Books, sources, integrity

  1. It looks like the library is still a pretty big part of your life!

  2. I find you very honest 🙂

  3. I like your strategy. I also tag my reviews with “review copy” if it was provided to me; I think it’s unobtrusive but also makes it easy for me to disclose my sources and separate out the reviews if I need to.

  4. I definitely find you to be honest. 🙂

    I think I’ll start tagging review copies as well. That’s something I haven’t been doing, not because I was trying to hide it, but just because…well, I hadn’t thought of it. 🙂

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