Monday, October 12, 2009

Me and the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission has ruled about bloggers receiving product for manufacturers.

This includes book blogs receiving books from publishers and authors. The FTC seems to think that books are income and bloggers need to disclose where the book came from or give the book away. Also, if the blogger includes a link to a place like Amazon, then the review is an "advertisement" for the book and that needs to be disclosed. I have a lot of problems with this new policy but I'm not going to get in them here (mainly because right now my thought process is STUPID STUPID SO STUPID! Why is my government wasting time on this?! Especially in light of this article. It makes it painfully obvious that not only does the FTC not understand the way book blogging works, he also fundamentally misunderstands how book reviewing in general works.)

UPDATE 10/20/2009 At the KidLitCon this weekend, Mary Engle, a FTC lawyer cleared some things up. Basically, as an independent reviewer, I don't need to disclose my ARCS, even if I keep them. BUT! I still will, because I always have, because I'm all about transparency and I have nothing to hide. Plus, it's then easier for you to decide how independent I really am. I *do* need to disclose my Amazon Affiliation and not just in my disclosure statement, so look for some stock text in my reviews!

So, just to keep things all above board, I'm making a few changes here at Biblio File.

Main points first:

1. If the book came from a publisher for this blog, I always disclose that, whether or not I keep the book. This is not a change in policy at all, I'm just reiterating it.

2. If I have a link to Amazon, and you click on that link and purchase anything then I get a percentage of the sale. How big of a percentage depends on how many items are purchased through my blog per month. I do this because as a blog reader, I want easy access to information about the book and maybe purchasing info if the book sounds good. It's also one of the easiest ways for people who enjoy my blog to support it. It's not a huge money maker for me, (in the summer of 2009, I made enough money to buy one CD.) Sometimes, if a book is not available through Amazon, I will link to another place to buy it. Usually, it will be The Book Depository. At this point, I have no affiliation with the Book Depository, except being a very satisfied customer. One again, not a change in policy at all, just a reiteration.

Other points:

In light of the FTC ruling, I will now be disclosing where EVERY book I read/review comes from. Here are the designations:

Own Copy: This is a book I (or Dan) own. We either purchased it ourselves, acquired it through something like BookMooch, or it was given to us as a present by friends or family (who are disinterested parties as far as publishing is concerned.)

Library Copy: A book I checked out from the library.

Borrowed Copy: This is a book that I borrowed from someone that isn't the library, such as a friend.

ARC/Copy provided by_____: An ARC or finished copy of a book provided by the author or publisher or another party for the express purpose of review in this blog OR in another medium, such as LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, which I am also a member of. If it says at my request that means I approached the sending party instead of them approaching me. (If a someone says "are you interested in any of these books" then they send me the books I request, that will not be labeled as "at my request." If an author says "I have X copies of my new book for book bloggers and I say "ooo! Me!" or if I write to a publisher and say "I would like to review X book if you have any copies available" then they'll be labled as "at my request.")

ARC/Copy provided by other: I often get ARCS or other review copies for reasons that have nothing to do with Biblio File. Usually, this involves the fact that I'm a Youth Services librarian in my day job. When I go to work conferences, sometimes publishers are there with ARCS to give to librarians. The YA Collection Development librarian in my system is very nice about lending ARCS that she gets because (a) I can't wait for the book or (b) she wants a second opinion. These things have nothing to do with this blog except for the fact I try to review everything I read, so it will appear here eventually.

Please let me know if you have any more questions, comments or ideas on how to comply with this ruling. I'm sure this will be updated at some point as we get used to it.

Written on 10/12/2009

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