Federal Trade Commission and Book Reviews

Federal Trade Commission and Book Reviews

What does one have to do with the other you may ask. The blogosphere was all a twitter (literally) yesterday when the Federal Trade Commission announced its final revisions to the Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Text of 16 CRF part 255 can be found here for your reading pleasure. The revisions include how bloggers talk about books on their blogs, twitter and facebook. The gist of the whole thing is basically if I receive a book courtesy (free) from an author, publisher, editor, distributor or whomever and write a review of said book, I have to include a disclaimer saying it is a free endorsement and I am not receiving any monetary compensation. There are a lot of issues to be worked out and Jane of DearAuthor blogged about her conversation with Richard Cleland of the FTC in order to hopefully bring some clarity to the situation. The regulations are set to go into effect as of December 1, 2009

In an interview between Cleland and Ed Champion of Edward Champion's Reluctant Habits,
"In the case of books, Cleland saw no problem with a blogger receiving a book, provided there wasn’t a linked advertisement to buy the book and that the blogger did not keep the book after he had finished reviewing it. Keeping the book would, from Cleland’s standpoint, count as “compensation” and require a disclosure.

Wasn’t there a significant difference between a publisher sending a book for review and a publisher sending a book with a $50 check attached to it? Not according to Cleland. A book falls under “compensation” if it comes associated with an Amazon link or there is an advertisement for the book, or if the reviewer holds onto the book.
One thing I have always done in my reviews is include a link to the book at Amazon.com. I has always appreciated other bloggers who link their books to Amazon because it is the fastest way to find out more information about books. However, my link is a regular link and not an amazon associates store account and I don't get any money for parties clicking through to buy the book. Since the assumption is there and in order avoid any problems, I will be linking directly to the authors website and uploading an image from their website instead of Amazon.

I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing about the keeping the books part. I totally disagree and will be keeping an eye on all discussions to come. I may end up establishing a giveaway of review books to resolve that problem. However, the issue that comes to mind is taxes. It just raises a lot of questions in my mind, some of which I have no answers.

I will be coming up with a blurb shortly including all the necessary legalese to satisfy the FTC and post it in the sidebar and included with review policy in link bar. Thank you the the various twitters yesterday who brought this to my attention.


  1. This kind of sounds like putting an end to a good thing. I'll have to read up on it and see what it's all about. Thanks!

  2. I put a statement in my review policy.

  3. Personally, I think this is all pretty ridiculous, but what can you do. I also have links on my site to Amazon, but I might stop doing that--I have never gotten paid from my Amazon Associates account for that anyway, so no big loss.

    As for accepting ARCs, Natasha Maw and Bookalicious Pam were saying they might stop accepting them all together just avoid any issues (as an aside, how sad would it be to love an ARC you got from an author and not be able to keep it because it's "monetary compensation"?). I've haven't accepted an ARC yet, and now I probably will just edit my review policy to where I won't. :(


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