On one of the writers’ lists I belong to there was a discussion today about the Federal Trade Commission’s announcement that its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials would be revised in relation to bloggers. Specifically it states that bloggers will have to specify whether they receive compensation for their reviews.
When I first read these guidelines I thought the disclosure would only apply to bloggers who review high priced items such as electronics or software and are allowed to keep the items. But it appears they apply to book reviewers as well.
These guidelines will be effective December first of this year, and as best as I can decipher the legalese, it means that when I, or any other blogger who does book reviews, receive a book to read and review, I have to state that I was given the book. That way people can decide if my review is objective or I was “paid” to endorse the book.
Interestingly enough, these guidelines do not apply to reviewers who get paid by the publication in which the review appears. So I am okay when it comes to the reviews I do for ForeWord Magazine, but not the ones I do here on my blog or on other online sites.
Edward Champion did an interview with Richard Cleland of the Federal Trade Commission that is well worth a read. It covered the topic pretty well, although the point was not made that most of the review copies sent out are ARCs – at least most of what I receive are – so they could hardly be considered compensation since reviewers can’t sell them.
Also, Cleland does not specify how the disclosure is to be made. Does it have to be in the body of the review? Does it have to be on every review? Will the FTC come after me with a warrant if I forget to include the disclosure?
Just to be safe, I may add a line at the bottom of all my review: Nobody bought my opinion.