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Armchair BEA: Ethics and Non-Fiction Books

Format: select
armchair bea
Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots

Armchair BEA is tackling the tough topic of blog ethics today, making sure bloggers know the rules and ethics behind their actions. I try to err on the cautious side, I give credit where it’s due and make sure that I write my book “reviews” before I really read what others have said about the same novel. Since I still tend to post reviews on books that have been out for awhile, it’s not too often that a bunch of bloggers are posting reviews on the same books as I and at the same time.

Since I can’t claim to know all the rules, I be sure to scope it out from people who seem to know. Here are some of my favorite resources that help guide me and my blog:

Ashley from Nose Graze hosts the Bitchin Book Blog. Every week she tackles ways to improve your blog. I especially found this post about Why Not to Use Images Straight from Goodreads. I thought I was giving proper credit by linking to Goodreads but Ashley gives several reasons why that’s not the case.

The whole question about the FTC guidelines and how it applies to book bloggers who accept review copies still baffles me. I liked Felicia from the Geeky Bloggers Book Blog’s compilation of the guidelines and helpful articles to help us decipher what to do. I still am not sure how to handle FTC, anyone have a simple yes/no solution for me? No? {cricket, cricket, as my son would say}.

Kathleen, hostess of The Biannual Blogathon Bash, SMS Nonfiction Book Reviews, and a couple other blogs is an amazing resource. As a Blogathon Bash participant, I belong to the Facebook group she created and she welcomes questions to help us with anything blogging. If I don’t know, I’ll ask her advice.



Do you read non-fiction? Well, in the past year, I actually have enjoyed more non-fiction. I mainly listen to them as audiobooks for the time being. I had a long commute to work and I found personal productivity non-fiction motivating to help me gather my focus on the way to work. That being said, I’ve also listened to my share of humorous memoir non-fiction. There are quite a few non-fiction I’ve read and haven’t posted a review on yet because I keep meaning to sign up for Michelle’s Non-fiction Adventure 5-year reading challenge. I’ve had my hand written list for about 3 months now, just gotta type it up and post it!


Some of the non-fiction I have read/listened to recently but not reviewed yet:

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman, 2*
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster, 4*
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, 4*
3rd Generation and Beyond by Danna Pycher, 3.5*
I Just Want to Pee Alone by “Some Kick-Ass Mom Bloggers, 4*


My upcoming non-fiction reads:

Driving over Lemons by Chris Stewart
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Make Today Count by John Maxwell
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I really have liked non-fiction that either makes me laugh, helps me focus on small victories and positive aspects of my life or helps me be a better or more productive parent.

Do you enjoy non-fiction? What are your favorite non-fiction books? What resources do you turn to when figuring out what the right thing to do is for your blog? As always; happy reading!



  1. Thanks for sharing about the blogathon, it’s much appreciated! I of course love nonfiction, but you know that. Thank for telling me about the Bitchin Book Blog posts, they are awesome!

    1. You’re very welcome Kathleen about sharing about the Blogathon, least I can do for a fantastic event you put on! I love sharing good bloggy resources so you’re welcome too about the Bitchin Book Blog posts…they are awesome!

  2. Thanks for the helpful post links, as I always thought giving credit to Goodreads was okay. Will check out the other posts too! Am learning several things thanks to Armchair BEA, so think it’s a win! Appreciate you stopping by my blog!

  3. You read a lot more non-fiction than I do – I tend to read most non-fiction for classes, so I want to read about fairies and vampires when I read for fun 🙂 But it’s true that there are a great number of good non-fiction books as well, and they are certainly interesting because they actually talk about real people or situations.

    Thanks for the link about Goodreads… I need to check on that, because I do use book covers from there, and mention that on my blog.

    Happy reading, and thanks for stopping by my BEA Ethics and Non-fiction post earlier 🙂

  4. My dad is a big fan of audiobooks. He’s constantly traveling for work and always seems to have some new stack of audiobook CD’s in his car. He had a field day when I uploaded some of them to his iphone haha. I think his favorites are ones that make him focus on positive aspects of life, too. I think I would have a hard time listening to them and focusing on what is being said. But that’s probably just something weird with me. I love the one titled “I Just Want to Pee Alone” haha! I’ll have to come back for your review of it to see what it’s actually about! I saw on ABEA’s blog where they mentioned DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. That one sounds so interesting! I hadn’t heard of it before today but I’m definitely going to have to check it out. I’ll wait and see what you think of it first 🙂

  5. Great links! I really like the one about Goodreads images, I honestly did not think of that. Most of my images are uploaded but I do think I have some that are urls from Goodreads, I’ll definitely need to change those.
    Great info!

  6. Thanks for posting those links for blogging ethics! I need to start studying up on them. I haven’t read any of the books you posted, but the book, I Just Want to Pee Alone sounds like something I need to read now! 🙂

  7. I recently started listening to audiobooks, and although I read non-fiction, I’ve been hesitant to try it in that format. I feel like audiobooks are just harder to concentrate on! However, I’d love to listen to Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman, so I think I might give it a shot soon 🙂

  8. I’ve been meaning to read 7 Habits for years now lol, procrastination is obviously not one of those habits for successful people 😉 Great post on ethics, will be checking out those links!

  9. On your FTC common confusion I think I can help. I read a very reliable source (sorry I cannot remember but I can look for it), who explained the FTC rules – boring – then broke it down to exactly what book reviewers need to do in order to be in compliance with the new 2013 FTC rules.

    Basically, you must acknowledge where you received the book, that it was free, and in exchange for an honest review. The book cannot be in exchange for a positive review.

    The site gave the exact paragraph that the FTC would like to see. I do not have it in my head, but you are welcome to come to my site and copy it, or send me an email and I will email you the exact paragraph. I put the paragraph in a box at the bottom of the post, usually in a font size a tad smaller than the test. It must be readable but does not need to jump out at your visitor.

    In regards to book covers. I do not believe there is a publisher that does NOT want you to use the book’s cover. They want the cover in the review so it is recognized. Visuals are easier for most people to remember than text. So it is okay to sue the book’s cover in your review, but you must never alter it in any way. If the publisher forgets to send me the cover file I go to Jacketflap.com to get the cover. They have the most consistent colors and are simply a reliable source. If you click on the cover it will enlarge for a better save.

    It is also permissible for a reviewer to post a small snippet from the book. If you read the copyright box on the credit page, it will say nothing from the book can be copied, etc, EXCEPT BY REVIEWERS.

    Illustrations are another matter. Those cannot simply be taken from a review site and used with the assumption that “if they could use it so can I.” To use any illustration from the book you must get either the publisher or the illustrators permission NOT the author’s unless they own the illustrations. This must also be posted on your site in clear view.

    I usually have a pop-up with the copyright claim. When your mouse is on the illustration the copyright pops up. At the bottom of the review, I also post the copyright and that it was :used with permission.” I have never had a publisher refuse permission. They want the book to gain a following. Posting one or two illustrations will not spoil the book for anyone, but it might draw interest.

    I hope this helps. Any confusion or questions, feel free to email me. (Or go to my site and use the contact form.)

  10. Um totally need to check out this post about not using images straight from Goodreads. I do think the FTC has gotten quite ridiculous in their guidelines and I haven’t implemented their new rules to my posts yet, but need to start doing that ASAP. Great post with some great links!

  11. Thanks for the links to those other blogs. I always love to learn how to blog better. I think the best thing to do is just to treat others like you want to be treated and to always link back to the person who had the original idea for meme’s and such.

    I love non-fiction because I love to learn and that’s the way I do it these days. Great post!

  12. Ergh – the FTC and their ever-changing rules. I just post where I got the book and if it was free in exchange for an honest opinion. If they want to chase me down, I guess I’ll just stop getting free books. Lord knows I have plenty on my shelf to keep me busy for a few years! I just keep waiting for the IRS to start wanting to tax us on our “free” books.

  13. I don’t tend to read a ton of non-fiction – just one every once in a while, although I do have quite a few on my shelf. I never thought to try some on audio – will have to see what the library has.

    Thanks for the links you listed – I was already aware of Felicia’s post, and now I’m going to check out the others.

    My Ethics Post

    My Non-Fiction Post

  14. I was really surprised about the Goodreads post as well! I never knew that I was actually doing something wrong – and now I make sure I won’t do it again. It’s so kind that people are willing to share this information 🙂

  15. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier! Re: The FTC … basically they just want you to disclose if you got a free book for a review. I always just put a short one liner at the bottom of my reviews which says: FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review on my blog. I also have a statement on my “About” Page which addresses the FTC. Truthfully, I don’t think anyone from the FTC will ever come knocking at your door – we’re sort of small fish in the big giveaway world of the Internet!!! Hope you are having a great week!

  16. Tanya! I forgot to mention in my comment that you won the giveaway I hosted yesterday. Congrats! You mentioned you’d like Where’d You Go Bernadette. Is that still the book you want? Email me at bookmarktoblog (at) gmail (dot) com with your book choice and mailing address.

  17. Devil in the White City was so stinking good, I hope you love it! Thanks for sharing those links Tanya, I could always use more help in the ethics area!

  18. The not bandwith stealing from another site is good advice for another reason: your images will be available even if that site is down. I used to take mine from goodreads but stopped one day when they are down. They actually don’t care (and in fact include a link to embed the cover from their site) but most other sites do! 🙂

    It is crazy the stuff you need to know or at least be aware of to be complaint with laws and guidelines. I always say give best effort and that is the most you can do!

  19. We’ve taken to only using photos we pay for and it’s a PAIN. I do wonder how you’d do that with books, though. You can’t just find a picture of the book you’re reviewing on a paid photo service site. I’m going to check out your links. I always love learning more about blogging. It can be so hard to get good, reliable information. Even if you’re trying your hardest to do everything right, it can be difficult to know what that is!

    I don’t read tons of non-fiction. It’s probably 10% of my reading. My most recent non-fiction that I liked was Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”. –Lisa

  20. Thanks for sharing esp. the links..Wow I didn’t know much about bandwidths that’s so cray! you guys made me aware like wh:oa! and again the guideline @_@ many thanks for such enlightenment!

  21. I went through a craze and read The 7 habits of highly effective people and some of the spin offs. However I don’t read a lot of non Fiction.

    Thanks for the ethics links, I have subscribed to one blog and read the post on another. 🙂
    My Non Fiction

  22. I do alot of the same things as you – especially not reading other reviews before writing my own! The links you put up are very helpful too – thank you for that!

    I don’t read much non-fiction, I think I look to books as an escape too much. But I did listen to the audiobook of Tina Fey’s Bossypants and really enjoyed that. 🙂

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