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Ouch! Elsevier admits payola for positive reviews

InsideHigherEd.com has caught Elsevier’s textbook marketers in a payola scheme, which the company admits and has said violated its own rules, encouraging contributors to post positive reviews at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. In an email, the company offered $25 gift cards from Amazon in exchange for positive reviews.

The company’s director of corporate relations issued a statement:

“Encouraging interested parties to post book reviews isn’t outside the norm in scholarly publishing, nor is it wrong to offer to nominally compensate people for their time, some of these books are quite large. But in all instances the request should be unbiased, with no incentives for a positive review, and that’s where this particular e-mail went too far.”

So, Elsevier just put a toe over the line…. Right. With new restrictions on blogger payola coming from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, these “little slip-ups” could cost a company dearly. Don’t pay for reviews and make sure all forms of compensation are disclosed, including free books.

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