Protect Yourself from Bogus Reviewers

June 2006
by Patricia Witkin

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Just as online anonymity
inspires some individuals to post comments they’d never utter in person,
Internet technology encourages baser tendencies toward theft. Email and the
Internet allow people to pretend to be what they are not. The ease and
virtually cost-free nature of email also spurs many to ask for free
goods—including review copies of books—with the intention of
fencing them.

Bogus book reviewers work their
devilry for different reasons. Some may be bibliophiles with a habit to
support. Many are probably interested in reselling review copies on sites such
as Amazon or eBay for pure profit. Whether or not your organization is big
enough to shrug off the lost revenue, it’s important to be careful when sending
out freebies.

Whenever you get a book request
from someone who claims to be a reviewer but is unknown to you, go to the Web
site of the publication the reviewer supposedly writes for and check the
masthead. Since impostors don’t usually claim to be on staff—they’re
freelancers or contributors, they say—also search the site to see if the
reviewer’s byline has appeared recently (or at all). Even if this search turns
up nothing, you may not be dealing with a fraud; maybe the site’s archives aren’t
comprehensive or its search engine is just lousy.

Your next stop should be Google or

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