Saturday, May 25, 2013

disclosure: where and how I get the books featured on this blog

This is a personal blog with books as its focus. I do not get paid for any of the content that I post on this site. I do, however, receive review copies of books, for which I have not paid. Receiving a free review copy of a book does not make me more likely to write positive comments, but per the new FTC disclosure regulations (see post) I will henceforth be explicit1 about the source of every book I review on the blog. Posts will begin with a descriptive link that will direct to the relevant section of this post. They will end, when any real disclosure is needed,2 with the same type of full disclosure statement I've been using in those circumstances for the past few years.

A general note about when and what I write about individual titles:

I do not write about all the books that I read.  I don't even write about all the books I receive review copies of.  I am much more likely to write about a book if I have strong feelings about it, either positive or negative.  Basically, if I feel ambivalent about a book, writing about it can feel like a waste of my time.

I'm trying to be better about including at least some commentary about every book that I read.  In fact, one of my 2013 resolutions was to write something about every book that I read this year (see post).  It should be obvious, though, that I've not been particularly successful with this so far.  The idea that I need to write thorough reviews is often what keeps me from posting more frequently.  Because of that I'd like for this blog to go back to being more of a book journal.  Personally I'd prefer to have a blog where I regularly share my thoughts about the books that I read, even if those posts are informal, rather than one where I post full reviews, but only infrequently. We'll see if I manage to accomplish that.

While I do try to find something redeeming in every book that I read (and I am sure to outline those redeeming qualities in my more thorough book reviews), I do not write positive reviews about books that I do not like regardless of the source of the book.  I don't even pretend to like books when they were recommended to me by a friend.

Now, the sources of the copies I read of the books I review on this blog:

Bookcrossing books

Bookcrossing is a book tracking website. I liked the idea of the site and hoped joining would facilitate my releasing of my own books.  Unfortunately, heavy involvement with the Bookcrossing and spin-off communities led to an increase in the number of books in my home rather than a decrease.  I'm not particularly active with Bookcrossing anymore, but I still have quite a few registered books in my possession.  I do not intend to keep those books in perpetuity so I wild release or pass them along to other readers after I've read them or decided not to read them.


Many of my friends and family members like to read.  They sometimes loan me their books.  In most cases I don't know how my source obtained the book I've borrowed.

Library books

I'm a huge fan of libraries both public and private. Since I was in kindergarten I've had at least one active library card at all times.

From July 2006 when I started the blog until April 2011, my sources for library books were the University at Buffalo libraries and the New York Public Library. All interlibrary loan requests were facilitated by the UB libraries.

From April 2011 to present, my library books came primarily from branches within the Westchester Library system. I did access books from the library at work on a near daily basis,3 though I don't often read these books all the way through so they are mentioned on the blog only infrequently. Interlibrary loans (only 1 so far) requested through WLS.

- Public: Because I rent rather than own, my direct financial support of public libraries is in the form of payment of late fees.

- Work: Access to the library and its collections are employee benefits at both UB and my current employer.

Personal copies

I own a lot of books.  Some, but not all, of these books have been added to my LibraryThing collection.

I've bought both new and used books from all different types of book sellers, but I don't usually keep track of where I've purchased them.

Because I like to read (and have a book-filled wishlist), I often receive books as gifts.  I do not ask how these books were originally acquired.

I also acquire books through BookMooch, a (used) book trading site (profile).  By trading away our own books, Russell and I earn points that we can use to request other people's books.    So far we've mooched 394 books and sent out 260.4 full disclosure:  I did serve as a volunteer administrator (mediating disputes between users and whatnot) for the site in its early days.  I received a coffee mug, but that was more thank-you than payment.

Review copies

I do receive review copies of books, for which I have not paid. These come from publishers, agents, authors, editors, or tables at library conferences or book expos. Usually review copies are unfinished proofs, either in paper or electronic form, but occasionally they are retail-quality audio, e-, or paper books. 

Review copies are distributed to authors, bloggers, book club organizers, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and others for their consideration in the hope of generating buzz about recently and soon-to-be-published books.  While entities distributing review copies hope that reviewers will review the book in question, they do not expect it.  There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule, but I hope those individuals quickly learn that nagging and/or harassment does not yield their desired results.  In any case, when I accept a review copy, I do not guarantee that I will review the book.

  1. To the best of my ability. That is, if I've had a book on my shelf for years I may not remember who gave it to me or whether I bought it from one bookstore or another.
  2. I received a review copy, I know the author, etc.
  3. Remember I work in the library.
  4. The disparity in those two numbers is a result of that fact that the site places more value on books that are sent internationally.  We have sent a lot of our books to people outside of the US and have requested books primarily from people who live within the US.

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