29 July, 2009

Rant: The Sorry State of Giveaways

Today was "clean out old emails day" and, going through 1400 emails, I came across four different giveaways that I have won in the last couple months. I remember my jubilation upon 'winning' these books, as all of them were ones that I very much wanted to read, either based on a review I had read or previous knowledge of the book. I will give the benefit of the doubt to one of the giveaways, as it has only been a month since I won, but the others are well in excess of that, and I have not seen hide nor hair of them. Giveaways won: 4 - Books received: 0.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not really upset over the issue since I can walk, quite literally, 4 blocks and be at the Union Square B&N in under five minutes. That said, it is a matter of principle that when you hold a giveaway, you should actually send the book to the person who won it! Given the anonymous nature of the internet and the potential traffic giveaways can generate, I understand that it is pretty easy to get away with these things, but come on!

So, that said, who is to blame? No one really. I understand that there are generally two types of giveaways, and please correct me if I am wrong. The first of these is these is run by many of the smaller blogs where the blogger will actually mail the book herself. The second is run by a publishing house or publicist or what have you, who is ultimately responsible for sending the book out to the winner once the contest is completed. This second type of contest is generally easier on the book blogger since he need not bear the cost of shipping.

I don't think the books that I won went deliberately unsent, I think better of the book blogging community than that, so my assumption is that something got lost somewhere along the 'giveaway chain'. It may be that the publishing house simply misplaced the email or that the blogger hosting the contest forgot to send it, in brief I can think of a number of things which went wrong, including pressing time constraints in the real world. Human error happens, and I understand that.

Have other contest/giveaway 'winners' had similar things occur? I have sent emails to the bloggers whose contests I won, but there really isn't a need to mention them by name here. I will do a follow up post if the email replies merit it, but I doubt there will be anything truly revelatory in them. To celebrate the potential of the giveaway, and the fact that you have read this post in its entirety, I will send the first two people to post a comment any book they want--yes, you heard me correctly, any book at all--as long as you live in the continental United States and the book is not ridiculously expensive, just email me your address and the name of the book through the link in my profile.


Neth said...

I have done a couple of giveaways at Neth Space, so I do have some experience in it. And they've been done both ways - with the publisher sending out the prizes and myself (I definately prefer he publisher doing it).

It's certainly easy for things to get lost in the shuffle, but I agree - it's just not right if you 'win' for you to never receive the book. I've also won several giveways over the years - and some of them I've never received the book (actually, all of those never received were contest sponsored on just one website - but I never bothered to follow-up to try and claim the prize).

From my dealings, I'd say that if things do get lost, the publishers are more than happy to make it right. In that respect, you should be able to get what you won if you let the right people know - of course that means that both the blog/website that did the contest and/or the sponsoring publisher need to be responsive.

So, I recommend that you be persistent in trying to claim your prizes. (oh, and I'm not interested in a free book - so if I'm in the top 2 comments, just bump the prize down).

SciFiGuy said...

Like Neth I am just responding and am not looking for a book. My experience is the opposite of yours, I've won a few mostly from bloggers sending them out personally and have always received what they promised. I've also run quite a few giveaways now of both types, me shipping and the publisher shipping. Again to my knowledge everyone has received what was promised. In most cases I get emails saying thanks - got the book. A couple of times they asked where's the book and it always was due to small delays in shipping but they eventually arrived. My experience with publishers and contests is nothing but positive. I agree with Neth, that if you don't get something you do need to follow up and make the party accountable. It's the only way problems get fixed and ensures that the integrity of the book blogging community is sustained.

Ben said...

I've won three books in total and have received all of them!

ediFanoB said...

I won 10 books so far in 2009 and I received them all. So no complaints.

Kimberly B. said...

I've won a lot of book giveaways, and usually the books get here, eventually. However, recently I won a copy of the book Naamah's Kiss and I waited for it and waited and waited. . .and finally I emailed the host of the giveaway to see what was up. It turns out that the publisher sent my copy of the book to another contest winner, and when the host of the giveaway told them, they sent the same guy another copy! So this guy ended up with two or three copies of the book, and me with none. But we eventually got it straightened out---and the book was great!

Krista said...

I have just started blogging like two months ago so I haven't won a ton of books "yet"..lol! But the few I have won recently have been sent to me right away. I hope you get those books you won, because if not that's just a total bummer!

All the best!

P.S. What a cool way to hold a giveaway! Congrats to those who got to pick a title.