Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Ethics of Book Reviewing

68.5 percent of book reviewers think anyone mentioned in a book's acknowledgements should be barred from reviewing it. 64.9 percent think anyone who has written an unpaid blurb for a book should also be banned from writing a fuller review. 76.5 percent think it's never ethical to review a book without reading the whole thing. And 52 percent think it's not okay for a book-review editor, in assigning books for review, to favor books by writers who also review regularly for that editor's book section.

Yes, it's time again for "The Ethics of Book Reviewing," an old NBCC favorite. From the numbers above, book reviewers sound like quite an ethical bunch, no? Yet not everything seems clear to them.

40.1 percent think a reviewer shouldn't read other reviews of a book before writing his or her own, but 17.9 per cent think that's perfectly okay, and 33.5 per cent feel it's complicated enough to require commentary rather than a firm answer. 73.4 percent answer "Not Sure" when asked, "Are the ethics of book reviewing in the United States and England significantly different?"

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