Yesterday I read a post on the blog Rat’s Reading where he complained about a site he recently came across that charges for reviews. Dedicated Book Reviews apparently charges for reviews, guest author posts and etc. You can check out the site and their fees here.
I looked over the site and I don’t really understand what they have to offer – what authors and/or publishers would want to buy – but I didn’t spend enough time on there to make an informed decision about the site itself. I will say I think charging for reviews is ridiculous and unethical. That’s a practice I’ve never agreed with. I’m sure many of you agree.
The issue Rat had with this site is that they were nominated for several awards in conjunction with Book Blogger Appreciate Week (BBAW). He requested that the site be disqualified based on the fact that they charge for reviews. BBAW responded that they won’t be disqualifying the site, though they’re confident the site won’t make it into the final rounds based on the process they’re using this year to judge the nominations.
I have several issues with this.
1) The site in question doesn’t seem to be established yet. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t even see where they have reviews or promotional posts up. At this point the only thing I see on the site is their reviewing/promoting policy and their pay scale.
2) BBAW and the way the nominations/awards are being handled. Last year the nominations were sent in and then the general public voted for their favorite (I’m sure the process was long and drawn out, I’ve condensed it here). This year they have panels of judges (made up of bloggers, authors and other publishing professionals) who are deciding which blogs will make it to the final rounds and which ones won’t. They base this information on 5 posts sent in by the nominees that they believe are the best representation of their sites.
Although I understand with over 1000 nominated sites the process needed to be modified from last year, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with the system in place now. Let’s say I have a falling out with a blogger who is chosen to be on a panel for an award I was nominated for. What’s to say that person won’t reject my nomination just because s/he doesn’t like me? Things like that make me wonder.
3) Should BBAW automatically disqualify the site in question based on the above information? I think so. Saying they’re confident the site won’t make it past the judges seems like a cop-out to me. Why not just automatically disqualify the site and move on?
On the other hand, I don’t really put a lot of stock in the BBAW awards. I mean, it’s wonderful to be nominated (we received half a dozen or more and we’re so thankful our readers thought we deserved the awards), but I’m skeptical about the awards in general. Especially based on the scenario I listed above with the panel of judges. Not to mention the fact that there were no guidelines in place to regulate who could be nominated and subsequently win (not that I’m aware of anyway. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).
What do you think? Is this a big deal? How do you feel about the site being nominated for awards when they charge for reviews? Should they be disqualified out of hand?
Of course, you can always choose not to participate, as BBAW said today:
We understand that not every blogger will feel comfortable with this process. Please know that you are welcome to withdraw your nomination and association with BBAW at any time. We hope that the rest of you will understand that BBAW is a labor of love built by and for the book blogging community.
In regards to the site and charging for reviews, I think it’s unethical and shouldn’t happen. When you start charging for reviews or promotional posts I feel you lose objectivity and your motives should be in question. One of the best things about book blogs (in general) is the honesty and enthusiasm they offer. I would hate to see that tainted because sites start offering reviews for money. Especially since I doubt an author will pay for a bad review..if you know what I mean and I think you do.
How do you feel about the fact that they charge for reviews/promotional posts in general? Are you as annoyed over it as I am?
(as an aside, I think the concept behind BBAW is a great one. We participated quite a bit last year and have been following along somewhat this year [personal issues kept us from joining in this year]. I’m just not convinced the awards are as meaningful as they should be)