Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

What does Duffbert know that these bloggers don't?

Tue 20 Apr 2004, 02:03 PM



by Ben Langhinrichs
Over on The Volokh Conspiracy, a fairly active blog some of the bloggers are wondering why book reviewers don't send review copies to bloggers, given their natural and plentiful audience. Tyler Cowen in Why don't bloggers get many review copies? and David Bernstein in The publishing industry and blogs (they don't get it yet) both seem confused and befuddled about why publishers won't send free review copies.  Yet strangely, Duffbert seems to have no trouble getting review copies, on his decidely less A-list blog.  What does Tom know that they don't know?  Why do the publishers send copies to him and not to them?

He knows to ask.  C'mon, guys, just make a case with the publishers.  Don't expect them to come to you.

Update: 

Here's another one.  Kevin Drum, of Washington Monthly's Political Animal writes about the same thing in Book Reviews.

Oh, and I thought of another thing Duffbert knows.  He knows to actually write some reviews.  Rather than wait for publishers to beg him to do so, he reviews lots of books.  On his site and elsewhere, from what I can tell.

So, two ideas for all these bright bloggers:  Ask and write.  See, wasn't that easy?

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:


146.1. Duffbert
(04/20/2004 07:43 PM)

Very interesting thoughts, Ben... I hadn't seen any of these blogs before.

I got started in the book review area with O'Reilly as part of their user group affiliation program. When I found out that they would send me free books if I wrote a review, I was immediately hooked. Marsee (my contact there) liked the reviews, and I liked the free books. What a match!

From there, I started wondering if any other tech publishers had programs. They did, and I signed up our user group for them. No one else wants to review in our group, which is just ducky with me. The only group I have not been able to crack is Wiley, which is too bad. I'd love to review Rocky's book... :-)

They (the publishers) just ask that you post the review on your group's site and send them a copy. I take it further and post on my blog and on Amazon. O'Reilly, Sams/Que, and Prentice-Hall have really appreciated this extra effort and send me just about anything I ask for now. I really try to not go overboard on requests, but I can't seem to get my "to be reviewed" pile down below 18... :-)

If I were "just" a blogger, would I get the same consideration? I wouldn't expect so. I asked Marsee about that once due to my influence on the Head First Java book that I blogged about. O'Reilly used to have an "evangelist" type program, but it was hard to decide who should be part of it and who shouldn't. Is 100 hits a day enough? 500? 10000? Using those criteria, I'd have to work hard to get anything. But the user group program feeds my blog, which feeds the Amazon reviews, which makes the publishers happy, and so on.

I've also gotten some recognition with StudioB, which is a literary firm which represents tech writers. They've picked up a couple of my reviews in Amazon and linked to them in their newsletter. I responded that I was the reviewer and that I'd be happy to do reviews on relevant books if any of the authors wanted to contact me. A number of them did so.

I'll admit, I'm driven by the free tech books. But I also consider it good practice for writing, plus I understand how it helps the publishers and authors. While I think I get the better end of the deal, the publishers like what they get out of it. I guess we're both happy.