Lately there’s been a huge increase in opportunities for readers who write reviews to obtain complimentary copies of about-to-be released books. This afternoon I ran across the following caviat on the Guardian.co.uk Book Blog:
The US Government is after me – and you, if you’re a book blogger.
If you get a free book, and don’t disclose this “vested interest” if you blog about it, you are now liable to five-figure fines.
The FTC claims it is seeking to protect consumers from being gulled by “paid shills” masquerading as objective or independent commentators. That is a reasonably aim. Alas, as the legislation stands, it is maddeningly vague and confused but also insanely ambitious in its apparent aim to police hundreds of thousands of independent voices.
Well, I often review books that have been sent to me by publishers, but I resent being considered a “paid shill.” By the time I’ve read and reviewed any book, my “pay” amounts to about 20 cents an hour, if that. But from now on, in goes the disclaimer.