Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Why I Might Stop Accepting Books for Review

Since I don't read books in foreign languages, today's Booking Through Thursday prompt wasn't really up my ally, so instead I thought I would share something that's been going through my mind lately...

From time to time I find myself thinking that perhaps it is time for me to stop accepting copies of books to review. I have cut the number I accept so low as it is, that it really wouldn't be THAT big a change for me. Well, in the last few days I have been revisiting the idea, or I have also been thinking that I might just limit myself to accepting books by authors I have previously read and reviewed here.

Usually when I get this feeling, it's because I'm feeling panicky about how much I have going on and trying to meet review deadlines on top of that just adds to my anxiety. This time, however, I find myself in the position of writing a less than favorable review for a book I received from an author and, well, I just feel badly about it. Yes, I realize that the general subject of writing negative reviews has been beaten to death, and its ghost dragged back out and beaten some more... Don't get me wrong -- I am firmly of the opinion that regardless of how much or how little one enjoys a book, they should be entitled to write a 100% honest review, no matter the source of the book. But that doesn't mean I get any sense of enjoyment from bashing someone's effort.

I truly hate to hurt someone's feelings, but at the same time I absolutely think negative reviews need to be shared. Even though some people don't seem to get this concept, not everyone is going to like every book. Shocking, I know. From a reader's perspective, sometimes I have read negative reviews and because of some key bit of information shared, it has saved me from reading a book that I know I wouldn't like, and you know what, I like to save both time AND money. And for authors who are capable of taking criticism, I would like to think that they might be able to take away something useful from a thoughtful critical review. (I won't get into snarky vs. thoughtful reviews here, since I simply don't write snarky negative reviews.)

But back to my situation at hand... I had the fleeting thought of telling the author of my concerns and even offering not to post a review of the book, but that just doesn't seem right, either, because I really feel like I need to share my opinions on why the book didn't work for me. I mean, I take my book-blogging seriously and always try to write honest reviews of what I read. Sometimes that means I might go a little fan-girly on a book I loved, other times I am even inspired to write a more critical review of a book that I didn't care for. I suppose part of the reason I want to write this review (and any other negative review I choose to write) is because I think there should be balance that comes from a dissenting opinion. Not that every review I saw on this particular book was glowing -- but there were many that were. And to be fair, I don't dislike EVERYthing about the book, but I also don't see how I can rate it higher than two stars when considering all factors.

And so once again I find myself thinking about no longer accepting review books. For me, personally, I think it is the right thing to do, since I apparently can't keep from feeling guilty about not enjoying a book I've received for review. Perhaps it wouldn't have been as difficult if I had just received the book from a publicist, but as it came directly from the author, that somehow changes matters for me. Or if I did this professionally, I expect I would feel differently, but I'm just a little ol' book blogger -- an avid reader who knows what she likes and what she doesn't and tries to form intelligent thoughts around that to share with others who love to read.

So now, I just have to muster up the will to write this review, pass along the information, and hope that it all just blows over with little hoopla.

Have any of you stopped taking review books for this reason? Or have you just limited yourself to authors you have read and reviewed in the past? Just curious to hear thoughts on negative reviews as they relate to taking review copies, or any other thoughts you care to share!

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my rambling!


  1. I struggle with the guilt thing as well. I'm not bothered when I receive the books from the publishers or Netgalley...but when it comes from an author I end up crossing my fingers and hoping that I enjoy it. Because if I don't I really have no clue what to do. I have changed my review policy to reflect the fact that I will post my review to Goodreads no matter what, because that's my personal most are aware that regardless of my stance on the book the review is going up somewhere. I do take occasional breaks where I don't accept requests. It's hard to deal with at times and I've been on the end of author anger before. I'd say do what makes you feel comfortable, after this isn't a job it is a hobby.

    1. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one... I think your policy re: Goodreads is an interesting one and something I might consider, as well. And I agree with your comment about hobby vs. job, which is why I'm leaning towards doing what I need to do and not worrying about what happens. I haven't been on the receiving end of author anger as of yet, haha... Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!!

  2. I've cut way back on accepting review copies too. Mostly because I just don't have time or feel my review of the book would offer anything. Sometimes, I really enjoyed a book and I buy multiple copies for the library. Would that be a review? No. But, it does help get the word out about the author because I will then book talk it or use the book for a book club. My personal life of reading and my work life of reading are so tangled as to make me feel a little bit tired of it all.

    1. Honestly, time is a big factor for me, as well, so the negative review aspect of it was almost more like the straw that broke the camel's back... I think buying multiple copies of a book for a library is possibly better than a review -- what a great way to help get the word out and the book in people's hands! I can totally understand how, between work reading and personal reading, you'd get burned out -- as much as I love books, that's a LOT of time devoted to them everyday!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts :-)


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