Book Blogging with a Side of Payola

So, over the last few months I’ve been somewhat vocal (typal?) with the book blogging crowd whenever a post gets written about blogging independence. Taking free books, accepting sponsored blog tours, and other such things compromise your independence as a blogger. How much of your independence you want to give up is entirely up to you. At a certain level, I don’t really want to read your reviews if you aren’t really independent.

I’m already a bit iffy if the blogger takes free review copies or when they participate in <q>blog tours</q>. But if you are okay with reading blogs that do that, that’s your call.

But what really chaps my hide are people who take money in return for reviews. This came up a couple of months ago in posts on a couple of blogs about possible application of government regulations regarding accepting sponsorship. The general tone seemed to be: accepting review copies is fine, and we would never accept payola!

Well, now one of the book blogging community has announced her payola policy. BookReviewsByBobbie charges $55 for a book review on her review site. Nowhere on her site (as of this writing, I expect that will change if this shit hits the fan) does she explain that she takes money for these posts. She explains it on a complete other site, where no one really will think to look. I can’t imagine anyone with integrity approving of this arrangement.

Nevertheless, BookReviewsByBobbie received six nominations for Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) awards. I’ve never been too keen on those awards, though I’m not really against them either. Mostly a mutual appreciation society. And that’s good in a way because it cross-promotes some pretty good blogs.

But promoting a reviewer who takes money for her reviews? I sure hope the folks that run BBAW and all of its various supporters make a quick and visible effort to distance themselves from this kind of crap. I’ve gotten some indication that they will. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I hope everyone else refuses to deal with that site, removing links etc. (The link in this post will be here for only a week so people know which site I am talking about after which I will remove them.)

Meanwhile, I hope that book bloggers generally will realize that this can happen here. It might even be me, or you. I won’t tell people to stop taking review copies or joining blog tours. But I will say this: pay attention to when your gut tells you something is questionable. When you worry about whether it’s okay to say something negative. When you worry about turning down a publicist’s review request. When it seems like a few bucks is better compensation for your time.

Edited with further developments: BBAW responds to this criticism with the surprising statement that payola sites are eligible for awards. I’ll be writing another post about this later, but this link needs to be included here as well.

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