FTC, publishers, and me – expectations and requirements for book bloggers

etching of woman's hand holding 5 old playing cards by Dover Publications

courtesy of Dover Publications

So, whose rules do I have to follow as I post book recommendations for y’all – the Library of Congress? the publishers? the authors?

Nope, the Federal Trade Commission! That’s right, the government agency that watches over advertisers so their promises don’t make you buy something bogus also has guidelines for social media so that consumers know when someone is Tweeting an advertisement or has been paid to review a product and so on.

There’s been some worry in the book blogging community about whether we’re notifying y’all properly as to how books land in our hands or if receiving free advance reader copies makes us unduly biased toward various titles.

And discussion goes round and round about what is the book blogger’s responsibility to the publisher or author who gave them the book…

Lately, I’ve seen reviewers splash an “FTC required disclaimer” on their book review (when there is no specific wording required by the FTC) or state that they received a book “in exchange for my fair and honest review” when most publishers don’t require that a review be written at all.

In fact, the graphic novel publisher First Second even blogged about that “in exchange” wording, saying that when they send out a book, they know that some folks will love it, some be on the fence, some even stop reading it because it’s not their thing, and that First Second would rather have a strong review (positive or negative) than one that says “this book is sort of okay.”

What does all this mean for BooksYALove readers?

While I’ve always noted whether I received the book I’m recommending from the publisher or have purchased it myself, I moved that disclaimer into the Book Info section so you know that before you read the full Book Talk which gives you the no-spoilers synopsis of the book. FTC guidelines satisfied, without bombarding you with lots of irrelevant text.

Of course, if I can’t give a book an A or B+ “grade” for its particular category (science fiction, adventure, etc.) and for fans of Young Adult books, then it never appears here at all. I don’t want you to waste your time or money on poorly written books when there are so many wonderful titles out there!

**kmm

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