The Reading World

Blog payola: Book and device reviews may be under FTC scrutiny

Robert Nagle, writing at TeleRead, has a hypothetical question for book reviewers after reading about the growing concern among bloggers that the Federal Trade Commission may soon seek to regulate blogger compensation by the companies they write about:

Hypothetical Ethical question: You are a  book reviewer for a well-known blog.  Amazon offers to send you a free Kindle loaded with  300 bestsellers (by certain publishers who paid Amazon for the privilege). According to Amazon’s offer, you could keep  Kindle on the condition that you  publish a minimum of 1 review a month  (positive or negative) on their blog for the next 12 months.  Should you accept this offer?

I’ve answered at length over at this blog, and encourage you to join the discussion.

Having recently launched a Blogger Advisory Council for Lenovo (I am the independent moderator of the community, for which I am compensated on a contract basis), I think complete transparency is essential in this day of citizen reviewing and that any pay for performance terms are unacceptable. The bloggers who receive PCs from Lenovo are not required to blog at all, though they are free to blog, whatever their opinion about the PCs, if they disclose their relationship with the company. Disclosure is mandatory.

I’ve been deeply involved in this debate for a long time.