The current hot issue in publishing is paid book reviews, initially incited by David Streitfeld’s “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy” that appeared in the New York Times over the weekend and profiled Jason Rutherford’s GettingBookReviews.com (now an inactive domain)–a service that was pulling in $28,000 a month for writing reviews of books commissioned by their authors.
The issue grew early this week, with Salon taking on the underlying issue here–self-publishing’s uphill battle for respect.
But on the afternoon of August 27, shortly after the Times piece initially ran, things took a stranger turn: an email containing a press release from Rutherford appeared in inboxes of Publishers Weekly. The email’s subject line: “NY Times Story on Paid Book Reviews Makes a Splash.” In the message, Rutherford promoted the Times article, citing online traffic stats and touting Streitfeld’s profile as “extensive” and “far longer than a traditional newspaper piece. The Reason? Rutherford’s story was so compelling that it mandated more detail and attention.”
The end of the message mentions how “blown away” Rutherford was at the response to the Times article, as well as closing with this sentence:
Rutherford is currently planning a comeback in book publicity, but “in a way that doesn’t offend Google or Amazon”.
The email, meant to drum up more interest in Rutherford and his “comeback,” is a clear sign that he doesn’t think he’s committed any fault and further reinforces the image of an individual who’s only aware of his enterprises, not of his enterprises’ context or their consequences. In other words, he’s out of touch with reality (in a way that’s reminiscent of “publisher” PublishAmerica). Rutherford’s email is evidence that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with manipulating the system if it allows him to manipulate it. The only problem is that he doesn’t seem aware that he’s been caught.