Book Reviews

Discussion: Should our professional reviews be free?

Hello book royalists!

I have been wondering for some time if we should be so carefree about reviewing books under request by only getting a book in exchange. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a free book is always well received but is it fair?

Authors and publishers are using book bloggers and reviewers as a source of feedback and recommendations to improve their product, but is it enough for us to only get a book for free? Authors want us to buy their books for obvious reasons and I think that is fair and I am against piracy… but… I wonder…

Am I giving my services for free?… in theory… I think I am…

In this equation, for example, Netgalley, they win more than us. We get to read a book if approved of course, but they get so much more from us!

  1. They get feedback from us.
  2. They start getting reviews and our thoughts to see how good the book will do (#marketing)
  3. They start getting the book out in the public ahead of time.
  4. We will post, comment, and discuss about it with everybody!
  5. Then… our followers will get the cravings for the book, and will request and will do step 1 to 5 all over again… or even buy it!

And all we got was the change to read it free and ahead of time… is that fair? I think some of you have the luck to get contacted directly by the publishers and get an advanced physical copy… but us, who live in Narnia, cannot even dream about that…

Should I just feel honored, invest my time for free, and read all the books I get and finish them just because I have to? Hell no!

Are my time and opinions worth 1 book? Hmmm, I do not think so…

I don’t know you but with a full-time job, a relationship, social life, full time studies, and a family… taking 6 hours weekly to read someone’s book… instead of investing it on my own TBR list… I don’t think that is 100% fair…

I am already reading and reviewing books that I want to read… but that is on me… you asking me to read your book… I think that is on both of us, right?


What do you think?


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20 comments

  1. Great discussion! I definitely believe it counts as giving a review for free, because there’s no guarantee of reviewers liking the book. Like you said, they also get feedback for it. A lot of work goes into making reviews as well. I wish I got physical ARCs as well!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, totally! ARCs are good and getting one for free is an honor… but as you said is giving it away for free. And what can I do with an ARC or a physical ARC after the review is done? I can’t and won’t sell it… :/ you know what I mean? Haha

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    1. Why can we not be paid and give a honest, professional, and unbiased review? Thats is part of the professional part haha like you wanted my opinion and my time and I will dedicated both so… paid doesn’t mean bribed xD unless you allow that to happen haha
      Now, I am not saying that if I go to the library buy 10 books and read them and review them I will be expecting some payback… but more when you approach me and say “could you read my book, review it on Amazon, and share it with your followers” that is asking me to dedicate my own time for something you are hiring from me hehe I don’t know is complicated haha

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      1. You can’t give an unbiased review when you’re paid. It’s human psychology. There’s a reason why Amazon doesn’t allow it. And even if you personally could manage to write an honest review (and people are already positively biased just from receiving a free product), no one would believe it was honest.
        On Amazon do you buy the product with only 5-star reviews that all say they received the item for free? Or the one with 4 stars and a mix of sponsored and normal reviews?
        Plus, not every author would consider paying. Could you really write a bad review for someone who is willing to pay you and would do so again if only you say their book was good?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, that is part of the professional part. If your book is “bad”, it is bad regardless of how much money you add to it. Give the book away for free and it will still be “bad”. And what is stopping you from giving a negative bad review if you are giving a free product? It is the same… The matter is the time and effort put into the whole affair of books. And still it is not marketing what is being given (the final goal of marketing is to sell and make sure sells go up) and that is not what I am wondering here :/ it is why someone’s time is worth almost nothing…
        Haha but thank you for opinion and for sharing it with us! n.n

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  2. Hmmm Interesting
    I believe another well known blogger said the same thing in a post a short time ago. I agree because some booktubers for example do get paid for advertising books that they sometimes don’t even read. But I think many readers out there are happy just getting the book so there will always be someone willing to do it! I just think we should be paid according to how much views and interactions we get and that would be the fairest thing to do!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Booktubers is a great example! Being watch and having such a great media presence makes it valuable and worth paying and I get that… so why pay them and not one of us? They work really hard and also do we! Haha and it is fine if you are just happy with a free copy that makes sense but not liking the book makes it a horrible obligation to read it for free haha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be futile haha there is not point of going against Netgalley for example as their platform works based on free labor hahaha JK hahaha but you agreed to that :/
        What is left? Work harder than ever and be an… influencer? Haha then they will pay you willingly and happily xD

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s an interesting question and I see your points but I’m not sure I agree with you. I have to admit I’m exceedingly skeptical of the “paid” reviews even on Youtube as a consumer of books. Not to say people aren’t or can’t be fair about it myself I just can’t help taking it into account. There’s also the truth that you don’t have to take or do any reviews if you don’t want to. Like I said you do have some interesting points though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a complicated topic I know haha I was wondering and wanted to see other point of views hehe most of the times reading and reviewing is a free endeavor that takes money and time away without anything back (economically speaking) the author are super happy that people read and review their books but how often is that effort compensated? I don’t know haha
      Still a “paid” review should be unbiased haha and we usually read or watch more than 1 video or review to make sure we want to get it or not haha at least I do hehe

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  4. I personally work a lot with indie publishers. They are an essential part of the book industry and have tight margins. They provide me with a copy of a book (so I do not have to pay for it) and cover postage. This alone has an impact on their turnover, so to then ask them to pay me for reading and reviewing the book would be unsustainable. They value book bloggers and benefit from their reviews. If we [book bloggers] were to start requesting additional payment then we would come to an impasse and then we’re all in a bad place.

    I also do this because I love it and not because it’s my job. I don’t want to get paid for it. I would feel even more pressure and I already have a job in which I have an enormous amount of pressure. Blogging and reading is my escape.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great discussion! I think it is technically β€˜free’ but a blogger still has to put in a lot of time and effort to read the books and write the reviews so maybe not that free! Great post! πŸ˜€πŸ

    Liked by 1 person

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