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I am in the middle of reading a bad self-published book that I actually bought from Amazon. You may have noticed that here on my blog, I’ve been reviewing every book I read, but reviewing this one seems uncalled for. Nobody else is going to buy it anyway, probably, except for friends of the author (I am not a friend of the author — if I were, there would be no conflict, because I never review books by my friends).

But yeah. Bad book. Self-published. Big surprise. What’s the point?

Reviewing this book would be like beating up a sick homeless person: probably easy to do, but hateful and vile.

Here’s a more troubling thing: I realize now that I handle self-published books with kid gloves when I do review them. I try to give the author more leeway than I do somebody who made it through the publishing obstacle course. I blame the failings of the book on the lack of editorial guidance, for example. My reviews sometimes even turn into critiques — pointing out ways that the already-published item could have been made better if it weren’t, you know, already, um, published — which is probably not helpful to anybody.

Should anything that is available for sale in the public marketplace be subject to the same rules, or can we politely soft-pedal and/or ignore stuff that is so under-the-radar anyway that our silence isn’t going to harm any significant number of buyers? You tell me!

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