From a marketing perspective, this is pretty smart. You're getting publicity for your book all over the book blogosphere, and familiarizing readers with the cover so that, when it's released in stores, people will know what to look for. Giving people extra entries for using the book cover as their profile pic on social networking sites? Genius.
From a book blog reader's perspective, though, this is all kind of annoying. Hence my mixed feelings about this. I understand why it's being done, but that doesn't mean it's any less frustrating to sort through my subs to find something to read that isn't -- let's face it -- a form of spam.
I'm curious about how this might relate to the new FTC guidelines. After all, there is an advertising relationship here: people are being compensated (albeit with contest entries) in exchange for posting advertisements. That sounds awfully similar to the main issue that these guidelines were created to address:
... Engle said the revised guidelines are aimed at advertisers and marketers, not individual bloggers. She cited a Procter & Gamble campaign called “Vocalpoint,” which provided “400,000 moms” with free products in exchange for endorsements made via blog posts and tweets.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting jaded. It seems the publishing industry has gone from an industry that once provided a mouthpiece for genuinely talented storytellers into a money-focused industry that will publish just about anything as long as they think people will buy it. Perhaps it's always been that way, but I certainly don't remember reading as many bad books in the past as I've read lately. Typos, plot holes, questionable messages for the target audience... and that's not even taking into account the self-published stuff!
What do you think? Do you like contests that basically force you to become an advertiser? What about publishing today? Have you noticed a downward spiral as of late... or were things always this shoddy and avaricious in the publishing industry?