I received a review copy yesterday and I started reading it today. Someday I will post about it. But, like Ted, I have no obligation to write niceties about a book simply because the publisher or publicist gave me a copy. When I first started writing reviews, I tended to be very harsh in reviewing books that I didn’t like. I have soften that somewhat — not because I don’t want to hurt the author’s feeling, but because I don’t want my blog to be a snark-fest. That doesn’t mean that one can’t be critical, however. If I choose to write about a book — whether it is a review copy given gratis or a book I have purchased — I will write about it honestly. As Ted writes in his post: This is my blog.
Only once have I had an author comment about a negative review. The comment was very simple; paraphrasing, it was something like: I’m disappointed you didn’t like my book. It pained me at first to read that. I thought: Oh, he actually read my blog. I might have hurt his feelings. Then I recovered, realizing that he shouldn’t — who knows, maybe didn’t — expect all reviews to be positive.
Upon further reflection, I realized that I was not only disappointed in the book, but disappointed in the author’s comment. I wish that he had addressed some of the issues I had brought up (this was a non-fiction book, and I questioned his approach and assumptions). It seems like there was a lost opportunity there.
I don’t get too many requests to review books. I do get review copies sometimes through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program, and occasionally through a program offered by Harper-Collins. I have been approached a few times, but I’ve been wary about accepting them. When I first started blogging, I had someone, who appeared to be a publicist, request that I review a book. I agreed, but was astonished at how amateurish the book was. I didn’t finish reading it and I never posted. I figured that if it wasn’t published professionally, a negative review might not be accepted in a professional manner either. I never regretted not having reviewed the book.