(This story bereft of hyperlinks as I don't want to give anyone more free publicity than they deserve).
I was recently contacted by a 'Marketing Research Executive' (boy, we sure love our important-sounding titles!) from 'Packt Publishing'. They were asking me, out of the blue, to post on this blog a review of a book they're publishing, which was vaguely related to something I wrote about a couple of times.
Long-term readers will note that, if there's one thing lacking in the annals of this here august publication, it's book reviews. Nary a book review will you find in my archives, search you ever so long. (For a start, I don't read tech books. Never have, probably never will. For the benefit of other Marketing Research Executives, I don't read self-help books, 'business books' full of incomprehensible jargon, or motivational books either.)
Apparently this is no reason for Packt Publishing to think that, possibly, I won't be interested in spending my time, entirely uncompensated other than an 'electronic copy' of the book (oh, joy!), to write a 'review' of their tome, thus providing it with enormous quantities (ahem) of free publicity. Also, apparently, no reason for them to think I might be a bit unappreciative of them contacting me entirely out of the blue to request this.
So, yes, PP, please knock this off. It's not hilariously evil, but it's annoying and not particularly classy. Send review copies to proper journalistic outlets who have paid staff reviewers who do this sort of thing for a living. Or if you're going to try and get yourself free publicity from random bloggers you found on Google, at least have the common lack of decency to offer a reasonable backhander. I wouldn't have taken that either, but at least would have felt the game was being played according to the long-established traditions, and there's nothing I like more than a good long-established tradition...
(and if you're considering publishing a book via PP, do stop and consider that they'll probably be sending out annoying emails along these lines to all your friends and acquaintances. Of course, you may think that's just them doing a good job, but hey...)