A while back, I criticized Bookreview.com as a scam for offering to review books for a fee. Heather Froeschl, associate editor of the service, has responded and thinks I was way out-of-line (I wonder if she’s also a member of the Colonial Fan Force, "the power brokers of the new Babylon"?)
Every writer providing a review deserves to be paid for the service. This does not mean paying for a rave, it means paying for the reviewer’s time and written word.
Sure, a reviewer should be paid. By her editor, not by the person whose work she is reviewing.
My goal is to give authors what they ask for…a review of their work. Sometimes I have to give bad news, sometimes I do give a rave, but in the end, authors respect what I have said about their book. Can you buy MY respect? Nope. But you can get a review from us within 14 business days. And that’s no scam.
Heather argues that the reviewers, despite being paid by the author or publisher for their comments, can maintain their objectivity and journalistic integrity. Paying for a review, she says, doesn’t guarantee a rave or that the reviewer will tread gently.
Okay, for the sake of argument, I’ll take her word for that.
How could anybody respect a book review that’s paid for by the author or publisher? How could anybody trust a critic who takes cash from the subjects of her reviews?
Of course the assumption is that a review that’s bought and paid for will be positive. If a book gets a negative review from her, I’d have to figure the author’s check bounced…or he wouldn’t kick in the extra $50 for a rave.
She doesn’t seem to get why anyone would question the validity of a review that’s paid for… or a critic who is in the pocket of the author or publisher. Heather also doesn’t seem to get the ethical problems, either…or how the practice creates a glaring conflict of interest.
Would you respect a movie review from a critic hired by the studio? Would you trust Consumer Reports on their review of a car, appliance, or other product if they were paid for the review by the manufacturers? Would you respect a restaurant review from a critic who was paid by the chef?
Apparently, Heather would.