The latest question on Booking Through Thursday is this, as suggested by JM:
“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 had an unpleasant experience with an author recently on a mailing list, so I can definitely answer this question. NO, we as reviewers are absolutely NOT obligated to post a positive review of a book simply because we were given the book at no charge. That is the chance an author or publisher takes when distributing the book first to reviewers and then to general readers — not everyone is going to like it.
HOWEVER, it is the responsibility of a reviewer to be fair. Critical as it applies to reviewers means “expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art” — meaning both good and bad should be considered, and a fair review will include what you liked as well as what you disliked about a book. It’s easier to complain than to praise, as we all know, but trashing someone’s work is bad form (as well as making yourself a target).
Honesty is always the best policy, as long as diplomacy and courtesy are also included in the procedure.
© Jan McClintock of We Need More Shelves