I received a book review request from a publishing company called PACKT. How do I know if the company and book is credible and if the effort would be worthy?

  • 2
    If it is PACKT(packtpub.com) it is a credible company.
    – Alexandros
    Jun 5 '15 at 13:27
  • Indeed PACKT is credible - I have a few of their books on my shelf. Now, whether I'd recommend them to someone else is another question, but they are reasonable books.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 5 '15 at 14:58
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    Just to clarify and perhaps it doesn't make a big difference, but what kind of review have you been called to do: (a) an internal editorial review - i.e., to give feedback to the editor about whether to publish or feedback to the author on how to improve the book; or (b) an external review: I.e., you've been asked to write a post on your website about what you think of the book. Jun 10 '15 at 7:08
  • @JeromyAnglim an internal editorial review.
    – mkc
    Jun 10 '15 at 14:24
  • I had a pathetic experience with Packt. After all work was done from my side, they stopped responding to the emails. I wasnt given any credibility whatsoever. Just a heads up. Sep 10 '15 at 3:59

Why do you care? Let them send you the book, if you are at all interested in the topic. (Free books! Yay!)

Then review it. If the book is obviously crap, then stop reading after page 15, write up how far you got and why you stopped reading, and submit the review. You may not get any more requests for reviewing from that particular publisher after that, but a one-paragraph review that warns people off a bad book is certainly helpful. And the entire process won't cost you more than half an hour.

And if the book is good, you can spend more time on it, write a thoughtful review and got a Free Book out of it.

EDIT: on second, third or more-th glance, I do see a way in which reviewing for a shady publisher can hurt you. Suppose an author plagiarizes a large amount of text for his book - but you don't notice (maybe because you are not familiar with the text that was plagiarized) and write a good review. Once this becomes known, of course people will wonder why you did not notice.

This really presupposes that something like this could more easily happen with a shady publisher, an assumption which may be open to question itself. I'd rather wonder about the author than the publisher here.

So I'd recommend something like this: google the author. Check his publications. Does he have a track record in the field? I'd be suspicious if someone with no scientific footprint suddenly were to write a book.

Check the publisher. What else have they published? Go by the publisher's website and by Amazon, especially if you don't trust them to be honest on the website. How are the reviews of their other books on Amazon? If you google their books' titles with "site:edu", does any educational institution set them as textbooks?

Finally, if the author has a website but does not mention the book you are supposed to review and the publisher looks extremely fishy to you, write him an email and ask about the book. It may be that an unethical publisher put his name on a plagiarized book that he never saw (however, I don't think that this is likely).

  • Thanks for the answer. I care because my name gets associated with the publisher. So, I thought I should know more about them before doing any business with them.
    – mkc
    Jun 5 '15 at 14:02
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    So suppose you review a bad book, and write in your review that it is a bad book. I am a bit unclear on why you would be afraid of this outcome. Likely enough a problematic publisher won't want to draw attention to a review that pointed out the flaws in one of their books. (I recently reviewed the worst Springer book I ever saw for JORS. I don't think my review will make it on the publicity page for that particular book.) Jun 5 '15 at 14:12
  • Note that being a technical reviewer for a book is a slightly different matter, involving more work but you get paid for the task. Even there, though, your reputation isn't particularly affected.
    – keshlam
    Jun 5 '15 at 15:15
  • @Ketan: I don't know whether you are notified of edits in answers to your questions. I did think of something that can hurt you in reviewing for unethical publishers, and I edited my answer accordingly. Jun 10 '15 at 7:03
  • @StephanKolassa thanks for caring enough to rethink and elaborate your answer, I really appreciate this. I have not been given the name of the author. I will contact the publisher and ask about it.
    – mkc
    Jun 10 '15 at 14:27

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