I was going to just post a blog with pictures of the latest books to arrive at Savidge Reads HQ of late but before I did I thought maybe I should discuss with you all the ethics behind Savidge Reads as a blog and me as a blogger. Actually the ethics, and in a way the integrity, of book blogging has been something that I have been thinking about over the last month or two. It was something that a few other bloggers and I discussed last week at various events. So here goes, though I am slightly dubious about putting this out there as someone somewhere is bound to take offense, especially if this post is skim read, but hey ho here we go…
When I first set up my blog back in September 2007 (with a different blog provider) I left a single review up of a Susan Hill novel and promptly didn’t do anything again until the December. From then on I posted for almost another year before getting any comments or regular readers. The idea behind the blog was to have a home for my book thoughts rather than my system at the time of using the back of old envelopes, random scrap paper etc, etc. At the time I was working for an off shoot of News International (don’t judge me) and the lovely people next door at TLS took pity on a certain book geek and started letting me have ex review copies etc. You should have seen the amount of postal sacks they got every single day!!!
After deciding to work for my current employer (who I never name or normally bring into the blog as I like to keep them separate, today warrants an exception) full time, and leaving News International in December 2009, being the book lover I am I wanted the books pages. Oddly everyone up north (the head office is in Leeds, I work from home in London) seemed only too pleased to let me do so. I initially thought that it was because they weren’t very ‘booky’ up there, and they aren’t in the main. When the sudden mass of parcels started to arrive I began to realise there was another reason they might have been happy to hand it over. Initially I was thrilled at these bookish deluges and so would pop a picture up on the blog of books incoming; I also did this when I would go on rather mad book buying sprees, to share with all three of my readers at the time. It became a little regular feature and remains so.
I share the pictures because I like seeing pictures of books other bloggers get on their sites. I often think ‘oooh I wish I had that one’ and hope that instills the same feelings in some of you. I also put the pictures up because you all might recommend a book in that pile I would never otherwise have planned to read and would have ended up at Gran’s or passed on to friends/book group members/the charity shop and instead I find little gems here and there that is a bonus for me and the books pages and the blog (that’s a lot of bonuses going round right there).
When you work on a magazine with a UK circulation of over 250,000 readers a month lots of people want their books to feature on your (very limited) two pages each issue. So naturally I get lots and lots of unsolicited copies coming through the door. I think people might believe I ask for every book that arrives here… I don’t. I can’t, wouldn’t and don’t complain as who out there that loves books wouldn’t love that arriving at your door? I have also discovered some absolute gems that I would have missed out on other wise as I mentioned above. What is slightly hurtful is when I get criticised (by email or by word of mouth) for it, or for ‘showing off’ with all the books that come in or am accused of blogging for free books/becoming a marketing tool.
I am not someone who thinks people should go into the book blogging world for the free books, it’s simply not ethical. If they ask to send a blogger something or if they send books without asking that’s the publishers prerogative. Asking for books is very different. I can’t lie I have been known to ask for a book or three now and again, however this is done on the understanding that it will get read and my book thoughts will appear at some point (my review policy for Savidge Reads, not my work, will be on the blog soon).* I do email publishers though if all goes wrong with a book or a book I specifically asked for is actually not going to get featured for a while.
I am not making any money from this site I simply do it for the love of books. I think the fact I have a nice amount coming in via my day job is not only a perk of the job but benefits all of you and means I have a diverse selection of books to write about. Having good relationships with publisher’s means I can get the odd author interview or giveaways and things. I don’t sell the review copies I don’t want, as I have rather a major ethical opinion on that – simply that’s its wrong. But that’s just my humble opinion.
I also don’t think you should go in to blogging looking to become some kind of celebrity reviewer/certified fountain of all knowledge on books aiming to take over the publishing world and eradicate/destroy/discourage the reading of any book you don’t like and make any book you do enjoy win every award going. We have book blogs, we aren’t reviewing for the NYT or The Guardian (not that I am saying their reviews are better than bloggers – lets keep a lid on that can of worms) or judging The Man Booker, no matter how wonderful some book blogs are. It’s lovely when people leave comments or when you meet them and they say that they like your blog. It’s delightful to get emails telling you someone bought a book you raved about, even if it might be they hated it and want you to reimburse them (that’s a joke). In fact it’s the comments, emails, friendships and discussion along with keeping a diary of my bookish life that keeps me posting and this blog going.**
I am hoping that all made sense and I haven’t caused a mass desertion of readers from the site, if I have… whoops. I think I just wanted you all to hear from the horses mouth, as it were, my personal ethics on blogging and particularly how books come here. Partly because there have been some wicked whispers not necessarily aimed at me, but also because it just seemed timely for me to tackle it all and get my thoughts out. Thanks for reading this far sorry if I waffled on, I know it was a long post today.
*In case any publishers are reading and thinking ‘oh but that title I sent hasn’t appeared on the blog’ either I am doing it on release date or just after or sadly I didn’t really love it and so it wont be appearing on the blog. A post and a page on my review policy is currently pending.
** Now if you do want to see some pictures of books that have come in to Savidge Reads, some requested some not, of late then do go to the post below. If not then I will see you tomorrow for more bookish fun and frolics.