I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.
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?
I absolutely don't think reviewers should have to give a good review if they didn't like the book. When authors or publishers send ARCs to readers, they ask for a review, not for a rave. I've heard a lot of stories from bloggers lately who have panned a book and then gotten a nasty comment from the author (or sometimes from Anonymous, who seems to get around quite a bit). If I write reviews or comments, I don't hesitate to tell it like I see it. I wonder if some authors think that because book bloggers aren't "professional" reviewers (i.e. paid by a magazine or newspaper) they don't take the task seriously or aren't qualified to give an objective review. Well, I know some bloggers who do a much better job reviewing books than a lot of those pros.
Trish takes this question a couple steps further:
How has receiving ARCs affected your reading? Have you considered stemming the flow of incoming books so you have more freedom to read what you want? Has receiving free books become more of a burden than a blessing?
I've stopped requesting books from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program -- I seem to have a block when it comes to reading books I have to read and review. Maybe it goes back to my college days when I rarely had a choice about what to read and always had to write an essay about what I was required to read.
If it looks like something I'll enjoy, I will request a book from a publisher via Shelf Awareness (note: you need to subscribe to their email newsletter to find the book offers). But, truth be told, I really don't enjoy writing full-blown book reviews (blasphemy!). It's not the kind of writing I want to spend much energy on, so my "reviews" are often short comments and star ratings. Which, come to think of it, is what I like to read too - just give me the gist and the juice and whether it's worth my while to read.
Speaking of free books, Friday is the deadline for my giveaway of The 19th Wife - see this post for details.