Some of you may already know that I do not receive free books to review from Christian fiction publishers such as Tyndale or Bethany House, but I thought it might be interesting to share with you why that is! Before I get started, let me just mention– in the spirit of kindness–that I’m in no way bashing fellow bloggers who do sign up for freebies. I don’t think it’s morally wrong; it’s just one choice I’ve made in the quest to try to make my blog unique, and my content of the highest quality!
With that out of the way, let me back up and clarify a little. “What’s this?” I hear a few people say, as they scratch their heads in confusion. “Book reviewers can get free books?”
They can! Many publishers will happily send book reviewers free promotional books by mail or digital copies to download. Depending on the publisher, to receive the items you may have to agree to write a review or the novels may have no strings attached whatsoever. Publishers/authors figure you love reading, so the odds are good you will read and post about the item. This helps them get the word out to interested parties, who will go on to purchase their releases.
So why won’t I accept free books from these companies? Here are a few reasons I’ve come up with:
1. It forces me to be more choosy about what I read.
If I have to actually pay for the book, or hunt it down at the library, I tend to do a little research first. I might look it up in Goodreads or on other websites, carefully read the synopsis, look up the author, etc. I feel that this helps me to weed out items that aren’t as likely to truly interest me or be quality content for the blog, and that in turn I hope translates into a higher number of excellent books being shared with you!
2. I never have to worry about being biased. (Or looking like I am.)
I can’t help but feel it could be hard for me, personally, to not be the slightest bit biased towards companies that send me free items. Wouldn’t it be pretty easy to start favoring books from, say, Tyndale, because I feel as if they care about me and give me free books? There are plenty of great bloggers of excellent moral character who don’t have an issue with it, but I love the peaceful simplicity of knowing I have a lot of Tyndale books covered on this blog because I just happen to like a lot of Tyndale books –and there’s no other reason.
3. I don’t have to be concerned about covering a diversity of publishers.
This kind of ties in with the previous reason, but not all publishers have an equal amount of marketing money, and that equates to different levels of promotional products. As it is, I can be pretty fair about buying or getting Christian Fiction from a variety of different publishers, rather than getting lots of books mailed to me from just one or two. I think this gives all the authors and publishers a fair chance, as opposed to relying on free books (which would often be from the larger publishers.) If at any point I buy more often from any particular publisher, it will likely be because of the quality of their products, and I think that’s a worthy reason.
4. It makes me more relatable.
Ultimately, my blog is for all of you, fine friends! And most of you have to get your books the regular, ho-hum ways. If I get my books the way you do– by spending hard earned money, downloading library apps on slow home wifi, or hinting shamelessly to friends and family about favorite authors before my birthday (haha)–hopefully I will connect with you more deeply. In addition, I like to think I’ll be more critical and thoughtful as I read the item than I would be if I invested nothing into it.
But wait… there’s one time I DO accept free books.
It’s only happened once so far, but I was recently contacted about doing an interview with a popular Christian fiction author I have reviewed before on this blog. She is releasing a new book some months from now, and her team sent me a digital copy to look at before the interview (if I wanted to.) Basically, the book isn’t available to the general public yet, so there is no way for me to get my hands on it the normal way… and while I would normally wait for it like everyone else, I think utilizing this gift would help me prepare a better interview with the author. Circumstances such as these, where I need to read the book soon for some reason and yet have no other options open to me at the moment, are the only cases where I plan to deviate from my policy! 🙂
How do you feel about book bloggers getting free books? Are there any good points I missed, or alternatively, downsides to my policy? Thanks for brightening my Monday by stopping by!