Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog practice: books received

This Slate story decries an American initiative intended to regulate bloggers who take money (or other considerations) for endorsements and publicity. But it seems to me it's a good idea in principle.

This blog intermittently takes note of new or interesting titles in history. Often I simply report on a title I have noticed in the media. Occasionally I may have purchased the book myself. But sometimes I have received, generally unsolicited, a review copy of the book I am noting. Not that I fear the long arm of the FTC, but I think I will start noting those cases.

Update, October 15: Reader Larry Marshall comments:
The issue of bloggers having to disclose the receipt of free product is not an issue of discloser at all. Rather, it is an issue that asks the questions of "why bloggers?" Watch any TV program that uses or reviews products. There is no disclosure of the source of those products. Similarly, magazines, many of whom have the sole purpose of reviewing products make no disclosure of product sources.
And yet the FTC targeted bloggers only. Why?

The irony of all this is that the motivation comes from the fact that if you're a magazine, reviewing products of your advertisers, you're making money and its costing the advertisers money. I know; I was an editor that sent out thousands of dollars worth of product (from manufacturers) for people to review for our magazines. But companies have figured out that they can save a lot of ad dollars by simply putting their products into the hands of people who actually use them, letting them talk about them on the Internet. This cuts into the media market revenue stream and the media market has a lot of lobbyist and lobbyist dollars to bring to bear on the issue.

THERE, is the problem that is being addressed by the FTC, the squeeky wheel. Some day you historians will probably write about such things (grin).
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