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March 28, 2007



Bah, now that I've seen the foolishness of my ways? That's lightweight. What bloggers should be doing is billing those who get a mention! I figure Viacom alone has already put my kid through college.

Bill Ectric

So, if your blog happened to mentioned that Time Adjusters is nine high-voltage doses of sci-fi, mystery, and the bizarre, with alternating currents of vision and satire, you would have to bill me, right?


I will respond to this at length elsewhere, putting forth my specific criteria of where advertising is appropriate and where it is not. My objections are similar to those I raised with Kevin Smokler's Virtual Book Tour. I am not against advertising or paid content. I only ask for clear demarcation and identification. (And I should also observe, in all fairness, that there is at least a header graphic delineating that this is a clear shill. I should have observed this in my initial post. This is an improvement over previous virtual book tours, but, in an environment in which Simon & Schuster attempted to bribe bloggers with a $100 American Express certificate if they promote THE THIRTEENTH TALE, I must take umbrage over this admittedly minor but nevertheless regrettable corruption of individual voice.)

There is a fundamental difference between promoting a book, a la the LBC, and promoting a book with money exchanging hands (in this case, if the VBT model is similar to Smokler's, from publisher to someone at Typepad; I will investigate the finer details). LBC members are permitted to dissent (and I certainly hope that the minority opinion is reinstated along these lines). But is there any dissent or criticism in ANY of the Virtual Book Tour posts? Since you desire to take me to task personally for things that have nothing to do with my argument, I should observe that none of your questions, Jeff, offer anything even remotely critical. Instead, it's such hollow banter as "If those two bands were to meet in a Braveheart-style battle until death, which would come out alive?" Such cutting-edge journalism! The Hollywood Foreign Press Association would be SO proud of you! Not something along the lines of "Do you think that your novel might be insufficiently colored by your love for Belle & Sebastian?" See, THAT'S examining "the underrated and the lesser known when it comes to books and writers." THAT'S championing literature. Taking it seriously enough to probe, analyze, and criticize it in the same way that one probes, analyzes, and criticizes Roth or Updike.

Of course, if the VBT posts HAVE been critical, I'm happy to be proven wrong, but everything I've seen in these posts has been near universal praise. In other words, what makes the post you put up any different from a press release? Yup, that's sticking it to the man all right.

I don't see what my NBCC membership has to do with any of this. Being a member does not make me an unquestioning acolyte of the NBCC or John Freeman. In fact, I disagree with Freeman's opinion on Amazon affiliate programs.

But do you honestly not see the difference between linking to an Amazon item, in which one can see a clear link to an Amazon product, and devoting AN ENTIRE POST to unquestioning support for a book? You're offering those who denigrate blogs considerable ammunition for taking part in this, Jeff. "Well," the reader says, "if he's shilling for this book, how can I take his opinion seriously?" If you'd like to undermine your usual thoughtful takes on books, that's your choice. But the difference between you and me is that you'll be giving the Andrew Keens and the Keith Gessens of our world a shining example of corruption. And I won't.


First of all, Ed, you know I have nothing but the utmost respect for you, that's why when you came down on this endeavor I took it to heart and my lashing out was more from my (real) lack of sleep and mood than anything else. I admit that I'm disappointed that you would put up a blanket attack without looking into the finer points first. Sure, questioning is fine, but for you to come out and say that we were all shills for Typepad just because we agreed to participate is yet another thing. Hell, couldn't we say the same thing about the Brainiads ads that we're running. I haven't read many of those books but having them prominently displayed on my sidebar might mean an endorsement of a book I would otherwise never endorse, and perhaps only because I trust the source.

My questions were vague because as I clearly stated in the post, I haven't read the book. I did, however, and I should have pointed this out, promise to post a followup review and interview once I have.

In some ways I agree with what you're saying, Ed. On the other hand, I could give a tinker's damn as to what the blog critics think of me or this blog. I'm not in it to make anyone happy. I'm my own editor and I have the last call, and in this case, I didn't and still don't see anything wrong with it.

I think Typepad has to make some changes to the way they do things, but I'm not sure that your criticisms are all valid.

As far your NBCC membership, I'll leave that alone for now. As long as your happy with the decision, then who I am to criticise...so I apologize. I hope it doesn't change what you do on your site for as you know I've long been a fan.


No worries, Jeff. I'd like to think that we can both criticize each other, while simultaneously respecting each other. And I remain a loyal reader of Syntax of Things. I took no offense to your post in the slightest.

But I do feel very strongly about the corruptibility of content and likewise happily invite you to criticize me if I am similarly "corrupted" by certain influences. I'm really unsure of what you're imputing here about my NBCC membership, but if you want to email me privately on the matter -- if you genuinely think that I am "selling out" with some of these print reviews -- I'm happy to listen. I don't know if I could completely sell out even if I tried. As I indicated in my post on the subject, I joined to become more informed about NBCC practices and to see if I could bridge the divide between litblogs and print.

As it so happens, someone from Typepad Books has contacted me. I will roll this into a future post on the subject that will take in your views and mine with a more reasoned flow.

Thanks again.


So, that WASN'T Ed's at length response?

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