by Donna Huber
There are a few sites that will provide you with free review copies. Often what is offered are ebooks, but sometimes you can score print copies as well. All you need to do is read the book and write a review - the review doesn't have to be positive. The publisher/author usually requests that you post your review at Amazon and Goodreads and any other review/retail sites you are part of.
Anyone that has purchased ANYTHING at Amazon can write a product review for any book. Goodreads is a free site that will let you connect with other readers and authors. Other sites might be Barnes & Noble or Kobo, Library Thing, Tumbler, Facebook, etc.
LibraryThing Early Reviewers
LibraryThing is similar to Goodreads.com and they offer an early reviewers program. Publishers submit upcoming releases and offer multiple copies that are doled out lottery style to requesting reviewers. Both big publishers (Random House, etc.) and small/indie publishers participate and some offer print copies. Check out the August offerings.
If you are looking for print books, then Goodreads giveaways are the place to look. You aren't actually required to write reviews for books won, but it is recommended. Unlike on LibraryThing where there will be 25 or more copies available, a Goodreads giveaway may be for only 1 copy. Also check out Goodreads Groups as many authors and small publishers will have "calls" for reviewers and their own giveaways.
I mentioned the new site Reading Alley. Anyone can sign up to write reviews. You are required to post a review on their site. If you are a romance reader, you may want to join their sister site - The Romance Reviews. As they deal with a lot of indie and self-published authors, they are mostly dealing in ebooks. There are other sites similar to this out there, some specialize more in one genre or another so look at where bloggers say they get their books or do a google search (just make sure you don't wind up at a pirate site).
Netgalley is open to media, librarians, booksellers, reviewers, and bloggers. Big publishers and small/indie publishers offer titles usually well in advance of their release date. To get some of the most popular titles, you will need to build a reputation on the site. You do this by increasing your Feedback to Approval rating. Also your profile helps. If you have a blog, tumblr, or social media presence add your views and follower stats to your profile. If you review a lot on Amazon mention how many "helpful" reviews you have. You will only get ebooks through this site, but publicists will put you on their mailing lists to pitch books directly to you and through the direct emails offer you a print copy.
Books can be expensive, especially for the avid reader and being on the wait list at the library for your favorite author's newest book can be a drag. But with internet and the need for regular readers to give reviews at places like Amazon, it is easier now than ever before to get free ebooks and books to satisfy your reading need.
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