In the midst of the confusion of blogs competing for your attention, a single voice of authority has briefly cut through the maelstrom.
As from the 1st December 2009, in USA, did FTC a stately revised guide decree. It seems there is a critical mass of gullible people out there in the real world who, coming all innocent and naive into the blogosphere, may be deceived by fake endorsements and testimonials. To protect them, the FTC requires disclosures (for the sake of completeness, here is the full text for those who find sleep elusive — as a cure for insomnia, this is better than Ambien).
Well, for anyone out there who worries or cares about such things, my original policy was to review the books I paid for out of my hard-earned dollars. This freed me from any sense of responsibility to write only good things about books given to me for my opinion. However, since these early days, there has been a change. I am now joining the team of reviewers at the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Reviews:
and have started what is intended to become a regular column on trends in publishing and the book trade. Here is the first column:
I have also accepted other books for review purposes — as and when those reviews appear, they will be clearly marked. I have made it clear to those who submit books to me that I will always offer an honest opinion about what I read. It seems they are prepared to take the risk.
For the record, I currently buy through the reliable Mark and Cindy at Ziesing Books who take my orders and, courtesy of M-Bags, send the books winging their way over to me. This is a change from Wrigley Cross Books who have now stopped selling new books. Their penultimate M-Bag sending broke every land speed record by taking more than three months to reach me. In the spirit of the excellent novelette by Stephen King, “Mrs Todd’s Shortcut”, it was as if the bag temporarily entered a parallel universe where it made progress in my direction, but wholly unobserved by the postal authorities at the sending or receiving ends. The drawback being that this diversion left me feeling angry, frustrated and, unlike Mrs Todd, older. I was therefore forced to find other ways of passing the time and lost my “reading rhythm”. Normally, I look to read at least two books every week. Having run out of anything new to read, I resorted to different activities, catching up on the latest animes, enjoying the over-the-top Chinese kung-fu adventures (see The Young Warriors) and revelling in the excessively sentimental Korean dramas (see Boys Over Flowers, Iljimae). As the last post demonstrates, I was also briefly tempted back into the cinema for Avatar and now for Iron Man 2. For once believing the hype, these seemed to be events worthy of my time.
With any luck, I should have the time available to restart reading as the various serials unwind. For those of you not into these dramas, they routinely run to forty or fifty episodes. This is months of commitment to see things through to the end. It makes quite a pleasant change to have one’s life dominated by the small screen for a while. Books will always be my first love but, having been born into a world without television — we bought our first set in 1953 so we could watch the Coronation — I still find the personal experience of watching a serial fascinating. I suspect the younger generations who have grown up surrounded by visual media are more blasé. Over-familiarity tends to breed contempt. The first reviews when I resume will therefore tend to be collections and anthologies as I fit the reading around the television (and do the occasional piece of work as well). Excitingly, there may be more traffic because of Alpha Inventions. We’ll see.