I’ve spent the morning cleaning up my reading schedule and taking note of all the books I’ve committed to in the past few weeks–they tend to multiply like bunnies, don’t they?–and also reflecting on how my feelings about review copies have changed over time.
I know plenty of book bloggers who never (or seldom) accept review copies, and I can understand why. It’s nice to be able to read what you want when you want. It’s nice to be able to say what you want about what you read, without worrying that it’s going to reflect badly on the author or the publisher who shared the book with you. I believe in giving an honest opinion, and it’s rare for me to give a glowing review without any caveat. So far I haven’t had any negative feedback as a result, but I can see where it might give a publisher pause.
Being able to read review copies was one of the big draws of book blogging for me, for several reasons. One, I live in France. As any anglophone who has lived outside of an English-speaking country will recognize, I have a limited access to English language books and the ones I can buy are at a huge markup. Because my book budget is limited, having access to free books is huge.
Secondly, I love sharing in the reading experience. This is something I have always appreciated, as a student and a teacher of literature, and this is the reason why participating in readalongs is one of my favorite things. When I’m reading a review copy of a new book that other bloggers are reading, too, I feel part of something, and reading moves from the individual to the collective. I love that dynamic and the exchange that it promotes, otherwise why would I be blogging?
But, having said that, review copies can be overwhelming. I’ve had to learn how much is too much, and sadly I tend to only accept books that I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy reading. I don’t take a lot of risks in the books I choose, because I’ve learned that if I request something and then don’t read it (because I can’t get into the story, usually), I feel bad. I have let down the person who entrusted the book to me, and it’s not fair. Sometimes I’ll finish the book anyway, but more and more I’m finding that if I do that I lose out on reading other books that I would really enjoy. So I’m picky.
For those of you who read review copies–is there an acceptable margin of ‘DNR’ (did not read) error? Have you received negative feedback from publishers about books you didn’t finish? Do you have another way of highlighting books that you didn’t read on your blog (as opposed to writing a review)?