It has come to my attention (perhaps a few months late), that the FTC wants bloggers to disclose when they're endorsing a product because someone gave them that product or paid them to say something nice about it. Because as everyone knows, when people give us free stuff, we think it's nice. We may even, subconsciously, be kindly disposed toward said stuff, merely because it's free. Or not. But there is that risk.
From the FTC: The revised guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
So, I just want to say right here and now, that no one ever gives me free stuff, and when I say nice things, it's because I mean it. Some of you have heard me say not-nice things on occasion, so you will know that what I'm saying now is true.
A bigger issue here is, who are all these bloggers getting free stuff,
and why am I not one of them? I mean, remember those sample boxes of new cereals you used to get in the mail? Not even that.
Okay, I will tell you about the one occasion in which I got something for free. Someone sent me cookies after reading my piece in the Washington Post
about how I can't eat dairy. They wanted me to try their dairy-free cookies, and if I liked them, of course they hoped I'd tell people about them. I gave them permission to send me the cookies, because: FREE COOKIES!
Anyway, I'm sure they were delicious (they smelled very good), but they contained coconut, which I can't eat, so I only had a tiny bite. One of my kids liked them. The other one does not like coconut. I also thought these cookies, while possibly very good, were similar to some that I make myself, without coconut. I happen to be a good baker. (It doesn't count as an endorsement if you endorse yourself; thus, I can give myself some excellent free cookies every so often.)
The point is, I didn't mention the cookies one way or the other, and if I had, I would've noted that I received them for free. Okay, now I have mentioned them, but not really, because I haven't mentioned who sent them. My little description of them would probably not be helpful to anyone, regardless.
I often talk about books in this space. Many, but not all of these books, are written by people I know. However, I always buy copies of the books I mention. I never expect to get them for free. I want the people I know to sell their books, not give them away. On top of that, I am lucky because the writers I know are GOOD writers. Some are even GREAT at what they do, in that transcendent way that you only encounter rarely. I'm not necessarily going to tell you which ones I put in that category. But I will tell you about their books, because I think all of them, Good and Great, deserve a wider audience, and because I want people to read more--and I want them to read stuff that's good, not just stuff that they've heard of that's on that first shelf where you walk into the bookstore. Publishers PAY for that positioning. You may already know that. Sometimes it means the book is really THAT good. Sometimes it only means the bookstore, and the publisher, expect the book will sell many copies for a number of other reasons having far less to do with "good" than one would hope.
But the bookstore, when it sells a particular position in the store for prominence, doesn't widely disclose that fact to customers. You just have to know. I presume that the FTC thinks this is okay because bookstores are in the business of SELLING things, so of course they will place things in a certain way to persuade people to buy them. They are not pretending to be unbiased.
Reviewers, of course, get books for free. But they don't feel any obligation to give positive reviews as a result, and we generally (with some exceptions) trust they're giving us their true opinion about a work. I would not want reviewers to have to pay for books; this would threaten their livelihoods even more than they already are. I am not officially a reviewer. But you can trust me.
I may have gone off track a bit.
The point I want to make here is: I will not be swayed by free stuff. So, it's okay if you want to send me something.
In fact, I encourage it, because it will give me the opportunity to prove once again how I will not be swayed by free stuff.
The UPS man comes at 2pm.
I'll be waiting.