The other day I was contacted by a publishing agent who was interested in purchasing space on my blog to advertise a work of Civil War fiction. The book was written by a fellow blogger who I highly respect; however, after thinking it over I decided against it. In this case, I felt uncomfortable agreeing to advertise a book that I have not read nor plan to read. More to the point: I don’t read much Civil War fiction so why advertise it. At the same time I find the idea of making a little extra cash attractive and I have to admit to thinking about contacting certain publishers to see if they are interested in purchasing space on my site. These are, of course, publishers whose books I feel comfortable advertising even if I haven’t read every title or agreed with the arguments contained in those I have read. One of the goals of this blog from the beginning has been to introduce more casual Civil War enthusiasts to more “scholarly” studies that take the reader beyond the battlefield.
A few weeks ago at the SHA in Richmond I ran the idea of selling space to certain publishers by a fellow historian who reads my blog and who I highly respect. He didn’t like the idea at all. His concern was that by advertising I would loose my ability to judge books objectively. While I do think this is a concern, I already have a policy which I make perfectly clear to publishers that ask me to review specific titles. At the same time academic journals and other publications routinely include advertisements from publishers and there is no reason to think that the integrity of their book reviews are compromised. In fact, from the perspective of the publisher it shouldn’t matter if one of their books receives a negative review since it will no doubt be linked to Amazon or one of the other book-selling outlets. All that matters is that the book is mentioned and it is up to the reader to click on the link and make a decision as to whether to purchase it.
The last thing I want to do is clutter my blog with pointless advertisements that somehow relate to the Civil War. Any thoughts, especially from those of you who do include online ads on your blogs, is appreciated.