The Impartiality Issue

Note: This is all a bit outdated now, as I no longer work for a bookshop, but I'll leave it as-is because the general ethos still stands.

Given the amount of astroturfing and fake publicity blogs and the like (not to mention 5* reviews from the author's mum on certain websites), I'd like to make a few things clear.
  1.  Yes, I work as a bookseller.  I get paid for it.  I don't get paid for this blog however, it's not officially part of my job, and I do it on my own time.  I'm sure that my employer (Blackwell UK) would like me to point out that nothing published here officially represents them in any way.  I like the company I work for, so Blackwell have standing permission to replicate anything I write here on their website.  Entirely my decision, I don't have to.  You can add your own reviews to their site as well, I just prefer to collect mine here. 

  2. The links to books generally go to the Blackwell website.  This is my decision, nothing to do with Blackwell.  It seems fair enough, given that I'm also using a little of their bandwidth for the book cover graphics (under fair use / review clauses).  Other booksellers are available, in fact I'd go so far as to suggest you support real Books 'n Mortar shops full stop, whichever your local one is.

  3. Yes, I get free books on occasion.  Most booksellers do. Many publishers distribute "advance reading copies", essentially prototype versions of books, to booksellers and other people with an interest in the subject matter. It's a good way to get cheap proofreading done, and also the source of the quotes on the cover. I will never give a book a good review simply because I got a free copy.  In fact most of the free copies I receive don't get a review, either because they don't stand out enough (in my highly limited opinion) or because I've not had a chance to read it....

  4. I read all of the books I review.  Not skim read, actually read, word for word, cover to cover.  Very occasionally I won't read the entire thing: a dictionary, or Maths 1001 for example, but even in these cases I'll read the majority of the book.  This (plus "having a day job") is why the reviews can be a little sparse.

  5. I'll generally only write reviews for books I really like.  Ones that jump out at me as unusually cool.  Bad reviews sell newspapers and magazines, but I'm not trying to sell anything.  Life's too short to spend finding the negative in things.

So there you are.  The reviews are my honest, personal opinion.  They're not motivated by money or any kind of pressure or reward from any bookselling company or publisher.  Which is how it should be.