What is it with the comic book reviewers who include this in their reviews?
This review was based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
I guess it’s supposed to be some kind of ethical high ground thing, but, ironically, it makes the reviewer look like a complete amateur.
Because the way the world works is that publicists are SUPPOSED to send out free product so it can get reviewed.
Does Roger Ebert go to the movie theater every Friday and stand in line and go back to the Sun-Times to say “Hey I caught some good flicks this weekend. Can I write them up?”
Does Michiko Kakutani spend her time down at Borders browsing the stacks and then call up the NYT Book Review editor to say “Hey, I really want to review this new T.C. Boyle book, whaddaya say?”
I’m sure there are times when any top reviewer covers something they paid for with their own dime, but the thing that makes them top reviewers is that IT DOESN’T MATTER. They”ve reached that not-so-rarified state that they can praise or slag a work independent of how it was received.
Every day at Publishers Weekly, we get dozens of “complimentary copies” of books and I assign them to various reviewers based on how important the book is and whether the reviewer will give it a fair reading. It doesn’t matter who paid or didn’t pay for the book itself.
I would be more interested in knowing if a book was reviewed from a .pdf or a B&W galley and so on — those things can affect the accuracy of a review.
Who paid shouldn’t.
NOW, if the author or publicist is a personal pal of the reviewer and sent them a copy of whatever with the note “I just KNOW you’ll love this! Alan Moore Updike is coming out to promote his new YouTube series and he’d love to talk to you about it”, that’s a different matter.
In that case, it’s more upfront to say “My good pal Swifty Kingsley sent along a DVD of this new Alan Moore Updike YouTube DVD, and it’s the dog’s bollocks.”
But that’s hardly reviewing, either. The NY Times and other reputable media don’t allow people to review a book if they even KNOW the author. That is how to maintain distance. In the tiny circle jerk world of comics, maintaining distance is almost impossible. That’s why I cut back on doing reviews — too many conflicts of interest.
But if I ever did go back to it, whether I got a book for free or whether I paid for it would be the least of my concerns.