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.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

5 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Dec 9, 2007 @ 6:51

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

  • Samuel P. Wheeler Dec 8, 2007 @ 2:48

    Hi Kevin,

    The things you write are worth reading no matter what advertising appears (or doesn’t appear) on the page. In the end, do what you want to do, I’ll continue to read.


  • matthew mckeon Dec 7, 2007 @ 14:59

    Go for the cash. If the amount of money offered is enough to skew your critical judgement, you’re already hopelessly corrupt. Or being offered way more than the usual going rate.

  • Tim Lacy Dec 7, 2007 @ 14:43


    I like Larry’s comments. I would add that you do risk losing some of your more sophisticated—err sensitive—err persnickety readers. You wouldn’t lose me, but why give the critics ammunition? And, do you ~need~ the money? Or, would the income gained be worth the risk? You have nice weblog, a solid audience (excluding me), and momentum. In sum, if I may hazard advice, move slowly and deliberately.

    – TL

  • Larry Cebula Dec 7, 2007 @ 11:03

    I don’t have a problem with it–but many academics are scandalized by any whiff of the capitalist system offending their delicate nostrils. I don’t run ads on my blog, partly because I played around one day and couldn’t make the layout look good with ads, partly because I don’t have the traffic to make it worth the bother.

    I think you would be better off just adding the Google automatic advertising key word plug-in to your side bar rather than working out individual deals with publishers and such. That way you do not appear to be endorsing anything. On the other hand, when you make a post about Stonewall Jackson and sex, the ads that appear will be for some dating site for neo-Confederates of something.

    (Wait a minute–I just stumbled on an gold mine! Excuse me while I create a dating site for neo-Confederates… And can we talk about advertising space?)

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