Review Copies – Too Much of a Good Thing?

IMG_20130420_103811I’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)?


19 thoughts on “Review Copies – Too Much of a Good Thing?

  1. Heather

    I’ve only had a couple of review copies that I didn’t want to finish, but I pushed through them because I thought I should. Then I had a blogger tell me that if you really don’t like a book, you can email the publisher and let them know you don’t want to review it. I’m sure they’d rather you do that, than write a bad review about one of their books. Hahaha!

    I’ve cut way down on the amount of review copies I accept. I’m much more picky about it now, for the reasons you stated above (reading books from my own TBR pile, etc).

    You could do mini-reviews, or a “what I’ve been reading” post. You could fit three or four books into one of those.

  2. Care

    I started my book blog BEFORE the concept of reviewing books for publishers was an option and never ever got comfortable with accepting them. One of the very first I did, was absolutely AWFUL in idea, construction, grammar, etc and I was appalled. I have accepted a few books from authors when I know they are loved by many other bloggers but that is all. Then I went to BEA and am now on so many lists, I want to change my email address. I ignore them. Sometimes, I write back and say I don’t ‘do’ ARCs and to pls take me off the mailings. I have so many books that I want to read for ME that I do not need any guilt for not reading something for someone else.

  3. A.M.B.

    I don’t accept review copies, and when I did, I only accepted one. I got quite a few requests, particularly from self-published authors, and I didn’t have the time to sift through them. As I explained in my post yesterday, I prefer purchasing my books or taking the time to take them out of the library. The price is an aspect of the book, and I find that an ebook with plot holes and typos at $17.99 is a bigger problem for me than one at $1.99.

    Also, I appreciate that refusing review copies lends credibility to reviews, but I do trust the bloggers I follow who receive review copies. I’ve seen mixed and negative reviews from many of them, or their remarks are detailed enough to suggest that what they’re saying is genuine. I would want the blogger to disclose the relationship to the publisher/author (as the FTC requires of many of us).

    1. Too Fond Post author

      Almost all of the book bloggers who I read and follow give what I feel are very balanced reviews–one reason why I trust them for recommendations!

      1. A.M.B.

        Same here! I trust the ones I read for recommendations, too. I haven’t seen much of a difference in reviews based on how they received the book.

  4. Anna Mills

    How do you request review copies? I had no idea that you can do that. I just read what I am sent but the stacks are getting out of control. There are quite a few books out there right now that I would love to review but I would need a loan to purchase; yeah, that many!

    1. Too Fond Post author

      Anna, there are a couple of websites for requesting digital review copies (just in e-book format). The two that I use are called NetGalley and Edelweiss.

  5. Laurie C

    I’m starting to reconsider requesting/accepting review copies, too. They do pile up! I try to only take on ones that I think I’ll be able to write a good review for and that are, in general, the kind of books I like to read anyway. But lately, I’ve been reading too many novels for review that are just OK, when I could be reading ones that really knock my socks off.

  6. Jennifer

    I’m pretty good at only accepting things that I’m fairly sure I’ll like. That helps. I try to stick to my review policy as well. I rarely accept self-published, etc. I receive quite a few unsolicited books in the mail and I only read them if I feel like it. 😉

    1. Too Fond Post author

      It’s nice to have the option. I think it would be easier for me to choose if I had the physical books to look at and flip through. Because I generally only get digital review copies, I don’t have much to go on in making my decision, other than the cover and the blurb.

  7. heavenali

    I don’t read many review copies – those I have had – I have gone after – following tweets from publishers or authors who have asked for book bloggers to put themelves forward for them. I do worry about getting too many review copies – I have had a few come in just recently – and as it is not why I started book blogging I am going to continue to be careful what I take on now, as my TBR is very nearly out of control already.

    1. Too Fond Post author

      I should do the same–only request the ones I specifically want and not look at others, but it’s very easy to get tempted by all that’s available. I’m working on it. 🙂

  8. Kelly

    I generally will not accept a book for review if I think there’s even the smallest chance I won’t like it (or DNF it). That’s not to say I adore every ARC I receive (I give honest reviews and will point out flaws) but I feel it does the publisher/author a disservice if I dislike a book purely because it’s not my genre. I know I’m not going to like a paranormal romance, so I leave those ARCs for those that do.
    That said, the ARC reviews I’ve done where I didn’t totally love it, the author/pub has never given me flak for my opinion. Which I appreciate. I hope I continue to experience that!
    They do multiply like bunnies though…I feel like once I accepted 1 or 2, the rest came flooding in! It’s hard to close the gate!

  9. Geoff W

    I’ve finished all my review copies I’ve received. I’m generally pretty good about guessing whether I’ll like a book before I request it/accept a suggestion. I went crazy right at first and now I’m even more selective about what I’ll review.

    1. Geoff W

      I lied – I have one that’s sitting on my kindle that basically is a DNR. I never got around to it and they archived the digital galley so I didn’t read it. I will read it this year as I thought it sounded awesome.

  10. Ti

    I only accept books that I really want to read so my list isn’t too bad, but when I fell ill for the entire month of February, which happened to be a big release month, I fell WAY behind. I am about 6 weeks behind and no longer reading the ARCs before the release date. I am okay with it though. In total, I have about 25 books that span from Feb to November.

    I have marked many of them as a DNF and I also note it on the blog if it took me a considerable amount of time to come to that decision. If i read 10 pages and find out it stinks, then I just stop reading but if I read half the book and then gave up, the I think the readers of my blog would like to know why. When I do this, I email the publisher and let them know. Some have even agreed with me! I never feel guilty about a DNF.

    I can’t help but visit NetGalley and Edelweiss at least once a week though so there are always books coming in.


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