Today’s topic is ethics and it’s one that is important regardless of what type of blogger you are. I’m finding it difficult to voice my opinion on this and I apologize if my thoughts jump from place to place.
I haven’t dealt with plagiarism yet, but I’ve had a review or two show up at another blog without credit. Usually a quick note, asking for a link back works. I am aware of a blog that currently has one of my reviews up despite me asking them a million times to take it down and they copied word for word my policies and request for review page. I’m at the point where I just try to ignore they exist, but it’s annoying (especially since they have a little over 8k followers & have launched an author promotion service).
I do have a real life story regarding plagiarism. Now this doesn’t involve blogs, but the lesson applies. When I was an undergrad, the professor who was my primary advisor for a research project came into class one day and called a student’s name out. When no one responded he said, “Right…if you’re X or know of him, have him come see me in my office after hours. I want you to plead your case as to why I shouldn’t go to the department head.” Later I found out, X submitted an essay using British spelling when he wasn’t British or even foreign and that’s not the big kicker. Are you ready? The essay X submitted was from a book, Professor R edited and his name is clearly stated on the book as the editor! Yeah X earns dumbass of the year. So the moral of the story is, you will get caught even if you don’t think you will.
In terms of being in FTC compliance, there’s so many questions as to what applies to book bloggers vs those who review products. For the most part, we don’t get paid to review books nor are we drowning in tons of free books. I do state how I obtained the book in the “my copy” section of reviews and you can see it right away. One thing I don’t do is state getting the book for review, etc at places like Amazon, Goodreads, or LibraryThing, but I do note that the blog appears on Lit, etc. I’ve also seen bloggers state “ARC Review” in their blog post titles and I wonder if that helps or not? Your thoughts on “ARC Review: title” vs “Book Review: title” subject post titles? I’m starting to tag my reviews as ARCs and am currently cleaning up tags before the tag cloud is available for everyone to see.
A lot of Armchair BEA participants will have great advice as to what to do or not. Here are just some general observations:
• If you’re reviewing a book for an author friend, you should state so. Otherwise, I wonder if that glowing review is real or just you trying to push his/her ratings (It does happen folks, I know of a blog that gives a particular author 5 star reviews regardless if they liked her stuff to boost her ratings).
• I know everyone has a different idea of what type of reviews they post. If you don’t want to post negative reviews and only focus on 4/5 star reviews, state so somewhere that way readers are aware that you only post a particular type of review based on the rating.
• If you come across a blogger that doesn’t like the book you loved, don’t go on the attack. Everyone has different tastes and reading is subjective.
• Do not share digital ARCs in any format with people who don’t have permission to read it. Even if you’re part of a multi-member blog, that digital ARC is for ONE member unless you have permission from the publisher or author.
• If you accept guest reviews, please state if the person can post it on their blog, etc. Also be aware that you don’t own the review or guest post-copyright stays with the person who wrote it (as per LegalZoom).
• On a final note, don’t hoard ARCs. If you really want to read that book, request it, but just don’t go crazy requesting ARCs that will just sit there unread while another blogger who REALLY wanted it might not get the chance.
I don’t read non-fiction very often because I do read it in real life for research purposes. I always want to fact check sources or something will catch my eye and I want to know more; before I know it, the book will be put aside and never finished. I blame my inner academic and one I can’t shut off (hence the reason I don’t tend to read books set in the Middle Ages).
I do have some favorite non-fiction books. I adored Jennifer Worth’s Call the Midwife. I’m a big fan of the BBC production and decided to check out the first book. I read that book 2 days straight and cringed, cried, and counted my blessings for modern medicine.
Since I am a Medievalist, I’m going to list some of the books that I think you might enjoy.
• Geoffroi de Charny’s A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry is an interesting look into the life of 13th century French knights. Charny was a knight himself and his code was highly revered. Fun fact: Charny once owned the Shroud of Turin!
• Barbara W. Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, provides good insight to the 14th century with regards to plague, warfare, and uprisings.
• Norman F. Cantor’s In Wake of the Plague, is one I like to throw against the wall. I have a love / hate relationship with Cantor and his book frustrates me, but still it’s a good read if you like things sensationalized and don’t mind “theories.”
• Jay Rubenstein’s Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse, is great if you’re curious about the First Crusade. I’m not including Jay on the list because he’s a former advisor, but because it is a well researched book.
• Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century, is a fun read! One of my favorite reads because it’s easy to get lost in the idea of the past being romantic and quite frankly even though I study it, I wouldn’t want to visit the Middle Ages.
• Helen Waddell’s The Desert Fathers, is a fascinating look at devout Christians in the fourth century. You’ll walk way looking at Christianity a little differently.
• Peter Hunter Blair’s The World of Bede is a great book if you’re looking for more information regarding Bede and the Anglo Saxon world.
• Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives is one I often recommend. It’s Terry Jones! Nothing else to add.