At long last, Carlin Romano has posted the results of the National Book Critics Circle ethics survey. If there’s one thing that most NBCC members can agree upon, it’s that 98.1% of them are indeed members of the organization. Where the six stragglers and the one “other” came from is difficult to say. But I suppose a few rotten apples or contrarians are likely to find their way into the fix.
The other major consensuses are these:
84.2% of the NBCC members who took this survey believe that a book editor should not assign a book to a friend of the author.
83% believe that opinion journals should adhere to the same ethical standards as newspaper book sections.
76.7% say it’s okay for a reviewer to repeatedly review books by the same author over the course of many years.
76.5% believe that it is unethical to review a book without reading it entirely.
76.3% believe that book review sections that are paid by companies for reviews should be identified in the same way that bloggers are.
73.4% aren’t sure if the ethical standards of the United States and England are significantly different.
72.1% see no problem with an editor assigning a book known to hold aesthetic, political, or literary views close to the author.
68.5% believe that anyone mentioned in a book’s acknowledgments page should be barred from reviewing the book.
68.5% believe it isn’t okay for an author to review another book if the author has served as a major source in another book that the book’s author has published.
66.5% believe it’s okay for a newspaper or magazine to review books by current or former staff members.
66% say that it’s okay for a book section to have a podcast with the author, while the book section carries a review.
64.9% believe that someone who has written a blurb should be prohibited from writing a lengthier review of the book.
Many of Romano’s questions seem to address, rather amusingly, some of the current practices of The New York Times Book Review. And judging from the results, it would appear that Sam Tanenhaus is upholding only half of the ethical bargain. I’ll have more to say about this in depth later. But for now, I direct you to Michael Orthofer’s commentary.
© 2007, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.