Would you write honest reviews in return for free books?

A friend of mine mentioned to me today how much she liked my novel Senator, which she had just finished.  So I thanked her and asked her if she’d written a customer review.  The question seemed to baffle her.  She had never considered writing a review.  Why would she do that?  But of course, now that I asked her…

We’ll see if she gets around to it.

In the ebook world, nothing is more important for sales than customer reviews.  But they’re extraordinarily hard to get, in my experience.  And it’s not just my books–I’ve come across lots of books by fairly well-known authors that have just a handful of reviews.

My publisher has a marketing arm called eBook Discovery that just launched a Read and Review Club to try to address this.  If you sign up, you can download certain books for free every couple of weeks, in return for leaving an honest review at Amazon or other eRetailer.  There’s some additional logistics involved, but that’s the basic idea.  I have no idea if this will work, but it doesn’t seem implausible.  I think the key will be to get a sufficient variety of books from authors they don’t publish, so that readers will stay interested.  Why not click the link and give it a try?

By the way, I believe them when they say they want honest reviews–if you hate the book, say so.  They are of the opinion that it’s the number of reviews that matters, not how positive the reviews are.  I’m not quite sure I believe this, but that’s what they say.