Defacing Books Prior to Sending Out For Review

Guest Post by Irene Watson

I got this email a few days ago:

Is it still “very bad form” to put info onto a review book that might hurt the resale value?
Right now I paperclip my business card in but I’m thinking of getting a stick-on business card holder
and attaching it to the inside front cover.

I addressed this issue in a previous editorial but would like to chat about it again.  I’m not going to regurgitate everything I said but will address some of the concerns: reselling and donating to libraries.

I know there are still many authors that will deface a book because they fear the reviewer will sell the book.  There is no doubt that reviewers do sell the books. This is an excerpt from a self-publishing forum to prove it:

According to an email I received from Midwest boss Jim Cox, the reason Midwest wants finished/final copies is that the reviewers “get paid” with books that they can sell after writing the reviews.
Michael N. Marcus
— author of “Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press”


Perusing the guidelines I find Midwest Book Review requires two copies of the title. I’m not sure why other than selling one or both copies because it only takes one book for one review. Many reviewers feel the sale of their review copy is compensation for time spent reading/reviewing the book and I certainly can’t disagree with them.  It boils down to a two-way street called “Give and Receive.”

But, let’s take a look at another reason not to deface, or in the case of the person writing the email above putting a stick-on business card holder inside the cover.

Many reviewers, after the books are read/reviewed, donate them to their local library.  We, for one, donate books that have not been reviewed to local libraries.  According to the librarians I talked to, the chance of the book ending up on the shelf in a library is much greater if it’s not defaced or has stickers on it.  Those that are defaced or have “review copy” on them are rejected.

There was a rumor going around one time that libraries will not shelf autographed books because they get stolen.  I called two libraries we donate to and was told they don’t have this concern.  I also asked several of my reviewers if books they donate get rejected because the book is autographed and the answer was no.  However, what I did learn is they are apt to keep the book in their personal library if the book is autographed to them personally.

What are your thoughts about defacing a book before sending it out for review?



Posted on October 2, 2011, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I would never deface a book I sent out for review, nor do I mind the copies being sold. Our job as authors is to attract new readers. What better way than for our book to be "re-sold" or donated to a library. The simple fact is that we aren't losing money. We want the review, so we send them a book. It's theirs to do with what they want. And as for them making a few bucks off it, what's wrong with that? Especially if they gave me a good review.

  2. My opinion as an author: Once I send a review copy out to a reviewer, I consider the book gone. It is no longer mine, it is theirs. If they choose to sell the book after reviewing it (or not review it), that is their choice. At the same time, I am particular with who I send review copies to. It has to be someone with an obvious review site or venue going for them. Otherwise, it just looks like someone trying to score a free book.Now I must chime in as a book reviewer: I never, ever sell any review copies I receive. I just don't think it's ethical to do so. If I like the book enough, I keep it. If I don't like the book, then it either goes into the recycle bin, gets donated or I give it away to anyone who wants it.Just my 2 cents.And for the record, I only personally autograph books if I am friends with the reviewer or if I think an autographed copy could be useful for a book giveaway.

  3. I would never deface a book either and I consider every book I have floating around out there is a plus. I've never autographed my review copies because I've always just assumed reviewers wanted them totally unmarked in any way, but I may rethink this now.

  4. I autograph review copies and copies submitted for awards (e.g., those submitted to Reader Views' annual competition) with the phrase "With the compliments of the author," sign my name, and in some cases, add the city where the book was signed and the date.

  5. In the note above, the link to my Web site contains an error. The link should work properly now. Ted

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