I was going to just comment on the previous post about this issue, but my comment was getting too long...
I've been struggling about this issue for some months now. Books are one thing, but what about products? Recently, I got an email from some PR company about a new soy-based product, asking if I wanted some review samples. I wasn't sure what to do with this, especially since I didn't know if it would be a product I'd like. (I tend to be against manufactured food, but the way the marketroid person described it made it rather intriguing.)
Then the question came to me: what if it was a product I was sure I'd like? Would it be different? What if some chocolate company asked me to review some amazing new dark chocolate bar made from wild cacao grown on some undiscovered island? etc.
In the end I declined the offer for the review samples of the soy product, as I have done so far (a la Sam) for anything else, from books to 'mention our site' stuff. I'm really not sure what I would do in the future though. Of course the irony is that I do have Adsense ads and Amazon links on my blog, and they do help to pay for the hosting plus more. (Disclosure: my last Adsense check was enough to cover the cost of a new digital camera.) The difference I see there though is that the Amazon links are to products I have bought myself, unsolicited, and the Adsense ads are there based on the words I have on my pages, again unsolicited. (I'm not organized enough to skew my words for 'better paying' Adsense ads or whatever. I write whatever I feel like writing.)
The one thing I don't appreciate is that feeling that companies are trying to use us, since blogging is so hot right now or whatever. I hate that feeling of being manipulated. On the other hand, free swag is always fun. I already spend a considerable amount of time and money on this hobby so something for free is so tempting. The dilemma... argh.
By coincidence a debate on exactly this kind of situation is going on at the moment on Megnut; she accepted some grass-fed beef review samples. The comments are split in their opinions.
Anyway I think this issue is going to be of increasing concern, and I love to hear everyone's take on it.
Posted by maki of Just Hungry.