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The Affaire De Coeur/Romantic Times Controversy

 
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Anne Marble



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 606

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:26 am    Post subject: The Affaire De Coeur/Romantic Times Controversy Reply with quote

Have you been following the controversy about Affaire De Coeur magazine?

Mystery author/blogger Lee Goldberg dug up some interesting problems with them. First, he did some digging and found out that AdC's advertising director is a co-owner of Light Sword Publishing -- and books published by Light Sword get good reviews and even cover space from AdC. Naturally, he saw this as a huge conflict of interest. Goldberg was also angered by AdC's policies concerning reviews and ad space.

You can read more here:
http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2008/07/mr-monk-and-the.html

In a later post, he also criticized both AdC and Romantic Times for their policies about reviews and ad space:
http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2008/07/the-affaire-of-unethical-conduct-in-our-romantic-times.html

What do you think of this? Does it seem that authors are "buying" reviews in AdC? And how many people know that publishers and authors can buy cover space from these magazines? (The same goes for Publishers Weekly.)

Also, what do you think about RT's policy, which seems more gray? From what I understand, they may have felt they had to institute their policy because so many small press books (including e-books) came in for review. RT doesn't promise a positive review to small press authors who buy ad space, and in fact, those authors often get one-star reviews. But what about avoiding the appearance of impropriety?

By the way, does anyone still subscribe to AdC? I still read RT, but I haven't seen a copy of AdC in years. I've seen opposing reviews about AdC. Some people think it's a great magazine, but it has also been criticized for terrible layout errors and even worse, for publishing dubious articles. For example, they will publish "puff pieces" from small press publishers of dubious reputation. Also, they recently published an article that made bold declarations about how headhopping; the lack of romances with castles or Indians; and erotic romance were destroying romance -- and the article turned out to have been written by a vanity press author. Rolling Eyes Sigh. Not my idea of an expert. With all the authors and reader reviewers/columnists out there, surely they could have found a better source for an article?

I read a couple of copies of the original version of AdC, and I thought the reviews were good. On the other hand, I wasn't impressed by the typography as it was a very plaink-looking magazine. (That could be a good thing as it was less glitzy than RT.) It's sad to see them come to this. Sad The current version of the magazine is under new ownership, and I wonder if that makes a difference. From what I understand, the original ownership wouldn't have done this sort of thing.
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Cyl



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 130
Location: Mississippi

PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I heard about this on a couple of other blogs tonight.

I've haven't read RT in several years and never read AdC. Can you imagine how this would go over if it were Publisher's Weekly or the like? It just sounds crooked to me. With AdC, it is a conflict of interest and just plain wrong.

I read Carol Stacy's post on another blog re RT's "reasoning" for allowing the e-pubs and small presses to "pay" for a book review; however you try to justify it, it sounds bad.
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Anne Marble



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 606

PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cyl wrote:
I heard about this on a couple of other blogs tonight.

I've haven't read RT in several years and never read AdC.


I still like to read RT, but I pretty much flip through the historical reviews. Smile I do read the paranormal, series, etc. reviews, and they do sometimes offer insights, but they're too short. Razz The issues are just right for reading in the bath tub, while watching TV or doing stuff on the computer, etc.

Cyl wrote:
Can you imagine how this would go over if it were Publisher's Weekly or the like? It just sounds crooked to me. With AdC, it is a conflict of interest and just plain wrong.


If PW did this, both publishing and the Internet would blow up. Wink There seems to be a division in trade magazines -- some will sell cover space, others won't. Some will succumb to pressure from advertisers, some will not. Years ago, glossy SF magazine Amazing Stories had a great review section, but one day, they stopped running the criticial reviews. Word on the street was that one of their major advertisers (I have a theory about which one) complained because they had given negative reviews to some of their books. So they stopped publishing negative reviews at all. Surprised And that made the magazine less fun to read, besides feeling like a betrayal and a total "wimp out." (And I couldn't imagine a publisher having the gall to complain about reviews!) Also, the magazine was owned by a company that produced roleplaying games, so I wondered if that influenced how they reviewed their games and novels.

I think many commercial specialty "review" magazines are the same. Wise readers seem to be able to tell the difference. For example, readers complain that some computer gaming magazines love everything, while others aren't afraid to piss off advertisers. Wink But at least in computer gaming, readers have a variety of magazines to chose from. That's not true in print romance reviews.

Cyl wrote:
I read Carol Stacy's post on another blog re RT's "reasoning" for allowing the e-pubs and small presses to "pay" for a book review; however you try to justify it, it sounds bad.


I can sort of understand why they did it, but I also think there were other things they should have tried instead. Also, as the market changed and small press authors became more respectable, maybe they should have changed the policy, at least for the bigger e-publishers and popular authors.
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