I’ve elected to answer the last two weeks’ questions for Booking Through Thursday today, on this lovely not-so-snowy snow day.
First, last week–Why buy books?
I do buy a lot of books, rather than borrow (though I do that, too), because I like to keep the books I love around me. I have bookshelves on one entire wall of my bedroom, plus three free-standing shelves, and stacks, boxes, and piles everywhere you look (I really need to take some of them to the used bookstore soon). I like to look up and see my stack of Harry Potter books, or my favorite book of short stories, or my shelf of Tamora Pierce books. I also like to see the books I haven’t read, to know that I have something to look forward to! I also like to be able to pull an old favorite off the shelf and read it right when the mood strikes, rather than waiting to go to the library and see if it’s even available. My money’s totally worth all these books, especially, since I get a lot of them used. These days, though, most of my new reading material comes in the form of review copies.
And the most recent question–Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?
Definitely not! Reviewers lose credibility if they’re not honest, and they’re cheating the people who buy books based on their reviews. You don’t have to post bad reviews–I do think it’s okay to only review the books you enjoy. Honesty is best with any book you do choose to review, though, and I don’t think that reviewers should feel obligated to review every book sent to them, either. We should feel obligated to give it a fair chance. If you know it’s not worth your time to finish, don’t finish it. For every not-so-great book we finish, there are millions of books that we’re not reading out there in the world, and surely at least a few of them are great. And, I think it goes without saying, that we should only review books we finish reading. Also, I don’t know that I’d think of it as a “disclaimer,” but having a clear review policy posted on your site is always a good idea (do you guarantee a review, for example), so that there are no misunderstandings.