Tuesday, October 06, 2009

New FTC regulations on book reviews

I began reviewing books because I have always wanted a reliable source for good clean family-friendly literature, and orthodox Catholic religious books, and had trouble locating one. Now, it seems to gaining popularity with the advent of blog review programs like "The Catholic Company" and so in comes the FTC with regulations. Let me be very clear. I do NOT make a living doing book and DVD reviews. I get free books and DVDs with strings attached. Great is my guilt when I get backlogged as I am now, and have to delay sending a review for several months. However, I always get them in, and normally elicit very positive responses. Tim Drake, Senior Correspondent for the National Catholic Register took time to write me about my review of his book "Behind Bella" saying it was obvious that I had taken time to carefully read the book. I consider it my responsibility. My greatest honor aside from hearing from Mr. Drake, was when Kent Gilges, the author of "A Grace Given" quoted my review on his book jacket between two of my heroes, Don Wildmon, and George Weigel.
Another point is; I almost never accept a book I expect to find objectionable. It gets too messy. The only exception I make is when a book, like the Twilight series or Michael Brown books become so popular that it is leading many Catholics astray, I feel a need to join the battle against the corruption of our culture. I have been surprised by objectionable content in books I expected to love notably; "The Dangerous Book for Girls" despite having some wonderful wholesome activities, had several suggestions of occult practices which no Catholic mother can recommend for girls. This was an especially contentious review, I had been invited to share my comments on "The Today Show" with my girls, this invitation was quickly revoked and my review on Amazon.com was targeted for attack, perhaps with help from the authors. My reviewer rating suffered as a result.
So the answer is NO, no one besides the National Catholic Register is paying me for book reviews, and again, I carefully select a book I expect to enjoy and relate to. Some publicists from religious and secular publishers have sought me out because of the high Google rating my book reviews have generated, and I am flattered and my reviews are published in many places, some of which are a surprise to me, for example the other day I Googled my name and found that my review of "My Sister Alicia May" was on the Catholic TV website. It's a wonderful book and I am thrilled to see it there. That and the pleasure of reading and promoting high quality literature and films is my compensation for being a book reviewer at this time.

Here's what Catholic Company reviewer, Long Island Motherhood Examiner and blogger at The Divine Gift of Motherhood Elizabeth Miller has to say about this, "
This just in: The FTC is now requiring bloggers to disclose if they have received a free book or other payment in exchange for writing a book review. I find this to be absolutely ridiculous. Since the beginning of publishing, authors have been sending free copies of their books to reviewers for publicity. So I am now disclosing, to cover myself for my past reviews, that any books I reviewed for The Catholic Company were given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. I was also given a free book by Ellen Gable in exchange for my honest review of her first book, and am in the process of reviewing her second book, which she also sent me for free.
Thus ends the ridiculous item of the day. Click here for the story from
Fox News. "

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SAHMinIL said...

I also understand why many feel it's ridiculous, after all the only I've personally have received is the product I reviewed for free.

With that said there were companies that had blogs that were made to look like an avg. mom-blog and were promoting their product on these blog.

Other bloggers were making outage claims health products (diet pills etc), and yet others were given free gifts, trips, vacations, and other things with the premise that the review MUST be a positive one.

Leticia said...

Considering that situation, I'd say the move to disclosure is needed, though it might be a case of overkill. For example, they could just require it for gifts over $24.99.
That would keep me from EVER having to disclose a gift!