Suspend Your Disbelief

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One book review? That'll be $99.00, please.

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What’s wrong with these two sentences?

We will keep the book in our stacks for another two weeks. If you decide to order a review after that time, we will ask you to send another copy.

That’s from an email Chad Post of Three Percent received recently from ForeWord Reviews.

Yes, you read that right: “if you decide to order a review.” ForeWord Digital Reviews, as the email explained, charges authors to have their books reviewed:

Digital Reviews is our new review service for books that meet our standards for worthy books, but which we can’t cover in our print magazine. Each issue of ForeWord only allows us to cover a few great pre-publication books, and many books come to us that we’d love to review if we had the space. Our Web site has lots of space!

[…] Digital Reviews are different from ForeWord reviews in that they are a fee-for-service review. A $99 fee covers the expense of writing and posting the review.

As Post points out, this means that “the only reviews on the site are ones that are bought. That makes for a very skewed representation of what the new books are… ” Here’s my question: isn’t a paid book review pretty much like… an ad?

What do you think? Are fee-for-service book reviews as helpful to readers (and authors) as the more-typical, non-sold ones? Would you trust a “bought” review?

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