Book Hub – beware of freeloader vanity press

Books

Some of these self-published books are good, but BookHub will not tell you, which ones are not, and will charge the author for your free opinion (Photo credit: rageforst)

Excluding my two blogs, I write for free for two reasons – for non-profit organisations  and “see what happens”.  After I posted a book review,   Book Hub blog  have followed my blog.  Its About page says:

Book Hub Inc. is a rapidly growing eBook publishing and distribution company looking to form long-lasting relationships with both emerging and established authors and publishers, book reviewers , and avid readers.

I am not ready to publish a book yet, but  I like reviewing. I contacted the BookHub, who – letters had been actually signed  ‘BookHub’  – sent me a cover letter, then a list of books available for review, then the book itself as a pdf.

The book was non-fiction, I’ll not mention the title because  it has already had one reader too many. The book was appalling on many levels, the only professional part about it was the cover – simple but clean-looking title on gray background.  The book – $4.99 for digital edition,  $19.99 hardback –  is 196 pages:   66 pages of the main content plus essays, which served as drafts  and in some cases are more detailed than the finished product.  No illustrations, no glossary.  The content was essentially a non-amusing amateur rant, no fact-checking and no editing  before publishing: the pamphlet is full of spelling mistakes.

I wrote a 600 words review in a week –  Book Hub warns you in advance, that while there is no deadline, they will  ‘remind you’ about your commitment. I sent the letter and received a prompt reply that, while my review is quite good, they will not publish it, because it is negative.

Some may think that a free book is a fair exchange for a review, published or not. But Book Hub charges its clients $150 for two reviews, and as a distributor the site gets the reviewer’s copy for free. $75  per review  is not a bad profit for somebody’s work. I bet that quality of  an average  book on offer is close to that of your  high school class essays – literary agents and, after them, publishers go through hundreds if not thousands of manuscripts to find one readable. So the reviewer  is doing work of a sieve, and BookHub gets the gold. 

Now, I don’t mind being rejected, even when I write for free. What I do mind is when I am not told the truth. Apparently,  I should have been able to read  between these lines:

If the review is positive, we encourage you to post it on your blog or on the customer review sections of sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

that the Book Hub will pretend that the negative review has never existed .  I think that soliciting unpaid reviews, carefully skirting around the fact that  honest opinions are not required and refusing to publish what they don’t like as well as disguising ‘marketing material’ as a reviewers’ blog may be a loosing marketing strategy. I do hope that the number of gullible readers is not infinite, unlike the number of graphomaniacs.

I  posted  my negative review about the book on Amazon and  Barnes & Noble – I don’t think that the author’s money on marketing were well-spent and he will not become a millionaire.

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4 thoughts on “Book Hub – beware of freeloader vanity press

  1. Hi Vicki, I think you may be a little confused about who we are and what we do. We are not a vanity publisher, but more closely compared to a non-profit in that we do a lot of work for authors gratis. Our main goal is to get an authors work out there before as many people we can and form a close-knit community of readers and reviewers. Our advantageous position within the industry gives authors an insider’s access to resources and knowledge that most new authors don’t. We use what we’ve spent twenty years establishing to help authors and their work. First off, our distributed authors (and we are only distributing their work, we are not in charge of editing, cover design, content, etc.) pay nothing for the reviews. We do this on our own as we feel it is important to gain reader feedback for anything. After all, who would we be without readers? The authors that pay to have their book reviewed (and we draw from our in-house database of 7,500 traditional trade reviewers, NOT blog reviewers) are the ones that do not have an agreement with us. In this sense, we perform service bureau work only. We’ve spent a great deal of time, effort, and money on producing and collecting and networking with this list. It is our gold, and a resource that not a lot of other small publishing companies can say that they have. This is the service we charge for, which is an entirely separate operation from what we do on our blog. We have many facets here at Book Hub, book reviews being only a small slice of the pie.
    Just like the larger world of publishing, nothing is ever guaranteed to be published. We cannot guarantee to publish every review we receive. There just wouldn’t be time in a day… Second, we use our discretion for all things when posting to our blog. You, on the other hand, can post what you want, wherever you’d like, but I would guess that you use some discretion as to what you post as well. The author anticipated your reaction to his book and did not mind the negative review. I’ll thank you again, as I have before (in addition to reminding you that we gave you the book for free in exchange of an honest review- a bargain which we both upheld), for taking the time to read and review the book. We do appreciate you taking the time to do so and would encourage you to read a little deeper into who we are and what we do.

    • I am confused: first you write about ‘marketing material’; now that you distribute sow’s ears out of goodness of your heart?

      Also, it’s impossible to build a community grading its members – bloggers as second class, while 7,500 (a very impressive and very large number, are you sure it’s not 100,000?) “traditional trade reviewers” do the “real” job. If you define “traditional trade reviewers” as people who are getting paid for book reviews, I am one of them as a staff writer for http://bitesizebio.com/

      I am sending the pamphlet – I insist that it doesn’t meet minimal quality criteria for a book – back, so you stop saying that I got it for free. I kept my side of the agreement: wrote a review in exchange for the file. But you didn’t – because you didn’t publish, but more importantly you refuse to prevent this happening again by changing your letter to potential reviewers.

      It’s interesting that you don’t deny that most of the books you distribute are low quality.

      P.S. I admire your ability to write quickly and copiuosly, but wish your letters were also clear and truthful from the start.

      • Yes, you are confused. We are a company that wears many hats and provides many services and does many things on behalf of authors and publishers. We really do it all: all things production, marketing, distribution, subsidiary rights, sales reporting, etc. etc.
        We refer to our trade reviewers as those outside of blog reviewers. We feel there is a difference insofar as the source, not the quality. If anything, we value blogger reviews more given that they represent a large portion of the reading public.
        Also, what pamphlet are you referring to?
        And we have not changed our letter to our reviewers. If you’d like your review published you may publish it on your blog by all means.
        Let us know how we may be able to clarify further. We don’t wish to be misunderstood.

      • I submitted my books and book hub said it would take 10 days. Two months later still no word.talk about shoddy communication. I am not putting up with this any longer.

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