For the past few years, [self-professed Book Maven Bethanne] Patrick has made #FridayReads a popular hashtag on Twitter, connecting book enthusiasts who tweet what they're currently reading and fostering literary discussions that can expose a book to a potential audience of tens of thousands. She created a related website, and a supporter created a Facebook page.
Patrick was the friendly face behind the hashtag, the one facilitating discussion and supplementing the conversation with book giveaways, author interviews, and her own book recommendations. In March—unbeknownst to most of her followers—she started charging publishers for her services.
Patrick charged anywhere between 750 to two thousand dollars to publishers for being featured as a #fridayread, which may put her in violation of FCC guidelines for paid endorsements. I encourage you to read the whole article. I never participated in #fridayreads, in part because I don't often play hashtag games on Twitter (because I hate fun),and also because I have a silly, old-fashioned desire to keep the books that I'm going to review a secret until the review is published, but it was fun to see what the booksellers and writers I follow in Twitter were reading.
#Fridayreads participation has plummeted since this news came out. It's a real shame that something so simple and fun has to get railroaded by such a dumb scandal. It's a violation of trust between a book blogger and her readers, and a huge waste of money besides. I wish publishers wouldn't fall for dumb viral marketing like this. A handful of those two thousand dollar payments could easily pay the advance on another novel, for Christ's sake.