Why I don’t instantly say yes please when offered books to review


I love books.

I love talking about books I enjoy.

I don’t really love reviewing books, although I’m pretty sure that in doing so I learn more about the subject than on a more casual, less accountable reading.

But lately I seem to be getting quite a few requests to accept advance copies of books, both on subjects to do with the main focus of this blog, working from home, and also on social media, about which I blog more frequently on my Des Walsh dot Com site.

And I’m not keeping up. The books are starting to become something of a burden, not a pleasure.

Part of the challenge I have with the whole exercise of reviewing is that I have this sense – old-fashioned, quaint even, as it may be – that I should actually have read a book before posting about it. And related to that is the fact that I want to feel that I’ve done justice to the book.

At the same time, I realize that the authors and their publicists might prefer I did not take that line and if I was not going to read the whole book, couldn’t I at least skim it and write a brief post about it, with a link?

Not an unreasonable expectation.  Just not an easy one for me to deal with.

There is also the fact that some PR/marketing companies offering books for review don’t realize I’m in Australia and then have trouble getting the publisher to ship the book here.

Time for some clarification

So for a recent pitch I received from someone I did not know, I wrote what I thought was an honest and hopefully helpful response, and in which I included a “let you off the hook” clause for the possibility that they hadn’t realized they would need  to ship the book to Australia :

The concept certainly looks interesting and I am sure there is a demand. I’m frankly being rather cautious about accepting books for review as it’s not my primary focus, they tend to pile up and I feel guilty and even more so when the people who have sent them follow up, quite understandably, with prompts.

Also, if I accept a book for review I will only do so on the basis that I can review it honestly, not just write a puff piece. I would add that I do not seek to gain any notoriety by being unfair or unkind and I do try to “accentuate the positive”.

Then there is the expense for you as I am in Australia and do not any more agree to review books from electronic versions. Some publishers refuse to ship review copies to Australia.

Sorry to be less than enthusiastic, but I wanted to be open with you. If you still want to chance my getting around to reviewing the book, please let me know and I’ll send you a shipping address. If you decide otherwise I will understand completely.

Guess what? Date sent Feb 1, as of Feb 28 no reply.

Not holding my breath. 🙂

Anyone care to share their thoughts on this, perhaps showing me a better way to handle it?

Image credit: “Books behind the bed”, zimpenfish, via Flickr, Creative Commons

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