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This is an advertisement. AAJ's Senior Editor, John Kelman, wrote a chapter for this book, and he was almost certainly paid for doing so. The final sentence advises readers to buy the book and proudly place it in a prime spot on their shelves.
If this isn't a conflict of interest, I don't know what is. Shame on AAJ for trying to sell its own editor's merchandise under the pretext of an objective review. This publication clearly does not discriminate between objective content and blatant (self) advertising.
Caveat emptor, readers.
Sir,Your diffamatory accusation (and the way you chose to express it) is a serious one. Consequently, i wish to address it in these pages. In a way, a comment stating that i am a poor writer would have been easier to accept than this. My "pretext" was never to "advise" anyone to purchase Granta Books' product. AAJs editorial guidelines, which is available to all readers, do not allow writers to recommend purchases. Writers are asked to modify their text before publication when there are objectivity issues in them. A companion (which is the word i use in the review and also used by the books co-editors) by definition accompanies and guides (ex: a birds watcher companion or a printed travel guide/companion). Printed companions/guides rely on repetition of use and access. So, to fulfill its purpose, it has to remain close/at arms length to its user, hence my use of the words "deserving a prime spot on their art book shelves." Your conclusion that this is an enticing statement and one of conflict in interests is wrong. Martin Gladu
Here's the end of the final sentence from the review:
"...most will find this book insightful and deserving a prime spot on their art book shelve." [sic]
There are but two ways for readers to place the book in a prime spot on their shelves: steal it, or buy it. I went and looked at your submission guidelines, and purchase recommendations are explicitly prohibited. I guess that means the author is recommending that readers steal the book so they can place it on their shelves?
All irrelevant microdata aside, the AAJ Senior Editor did contribute to this book, which makes a purchase recommendation a blatant conflict of interest (at least without a prominent disclaimer advising readers of the situation). What would this publication do if the same Senior Editor played bass on a track on a CD which was being reviewed? Just plug the disc and advertise again, I suppose.
"Edward",Is it really necessary to continue with this dialog? We know you have an axe to grind and it's clearly clouding your judgment.This is a special book and we *always* recognize the efforts of our writers when they do extraordinary work. We're a supportive community--that's simply how we operate.Michael
I suppose we all tend to lash out when we feel threatened.
However, it's a pity that people's instincts have to be made so public, especially over so worthy a subject. It makes me sad and I wonder how the music can be enjoyed with such rhetoric lurking in the shadows.
Jane Ira Bloom
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