Reviewing versus Bookselling
or, Not Selling Books Here

Essay by
Robert Wilfred Franson
May 2009

Policy: We do not sell books

Troynovant is a review-and-essay website: essentially, we have writings about books and other cultural matters of interest or importance, at least to us. Our range is from science fiction to philosophy, from mystery to economics, from romance to history: all among multiple strata and personae.

We do not sell books at Troynovant. Nor do we link to booksellers with whom we have some indirect or invisible monetary relationship: affiliate accounts or the like.

It seems worthwhile to make this clear, since some readers browsing the Web assume that reviewing and bookselling must go hand-in-hand. Certainly this is true at many websites, and even in some print media. We are sorry to disappoint those who have asked for direct-buy links at Troynovant.

We do not wish our recommendations to be confused with, or entangled with, buying books from us or via booksellers affiliated with us. Our essays and reviews stand alone.

Where to buy books?

Herweg-Romine Bookstore, San Diego 1960s Readers will notice that we are not biased by a book's ready availability. If a book has been out of print for a century, that is no argument against our reviewing it — or against its being worthy of reading.

Now, there are many fine places to buy books, from parchment on along to e-books. There are stores specializing in new works, in used works; specialized by subject or general; books-and-mortar storefronts and online sellers. All these types are fine, and our readers will assume rightly that we patronize all of these types.

In fact, our readers will not be surprised to learn that we sometimes cannot be pried out of a bookstore.


Troynovant is advertising-supported. Contextual advertising is related, more or less, to the words among which a particular ad appears: vicinity, page, and website. The advertising server's proprietary software manages a constantly shifting process of textual weighting versus placement bidding. On this basis we do not choose these ads appearing at Troynovant, and do not know what will appear on a given rendering of a particular page until we see it ourselves. You also may be bemused occasionally.

(Note, July 2018: We've cancelled our advertising contract, after ten years of helpful income, due to increased use of consumer adblockers; concerns with new European regulations; and difficulties with the advertising server's selection and presentation of ads.)

No pay-for-praise

We call 'em as we see 'em. You might now and then wonder if we see through rose-colored lenses, or through a glass darkly, or even that Troynovant must float upon a ringing plain where ignorant armies strive with words. Read 'em and learn, read 'em and laugh, maybe read 'em and weep: our cards still are being dealt, but they come from a true deck.

[The coast of Illyria. Olivia's house.]

Olivia (to Viola, disguised as Cesario):

Sure, you have some hideous matter to deliver when the courtesy of it is so fearful. Speak your office.
William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night, 1.5.182-183
Who do we link to?

Troynovant is designed to be a Web resource. We enjoy pointing out sources of related information, links to useful or illustrative or entertaining items or places on the Web.

The major American and British publishers are easy to find online; we are most likely to link to these when they provide online a detailed contents list for a reviewed book. We try to link to small or specialty publishers. Editors and publishers, please don't be offended if we haven't linked from a review of your book; perhaps we provide a link from some other work, or it may just be that we haven't gotten around to it yet.

We may link to author websites, if they consist of more than a minimal blog or a stack of affiliate links. Authors, please don't be offended if we haven't linked from a review of your book — as above for publishers.

Occasionally we link to a specialty seller if a reviewed item is not American or British, or otherwise could be difficult for our readers to locate.

Similarly, we sometimes link to e-texts available free online. Often, though, online e-texts are merely partial versions for promotion, or created from older editions which may not be the most accurate text or most usable edition, or, sadly, in too many cases almost alphabet-soup trash.

Will we ever sell books?

Been there, done that — too briefly in our own little physical store years ago, The Zarathustra Bookstore: "all books personally recommended!" — when the ComWeb was futuristic science fiction. Should we begin to sell books online, such titles likely would be of such a nature as cannot be found elsewhere: either not easily, or not at all. Don't hold your breath until that evanescent day, though.

A newer, sister site is The Lofting Agency: the portal to Franson books; but we don't sell books directly there, either, and there are no affiliate links.

Read onwards

At Troynovant we are more interested in excellent or distinctive work than the merely timely or fashionable. Quality is always in season, and often more topical and entertaining than currency or fashion admit. Thus, we aim to refer and amuse, rather than to announce and forget. We avoid spoiling surprises in reviews that recommend; other works take their chances.

Indirectly, of course, we happily encourage sales of books we recommend. Or check them out from a library, or borrow from a friend. Reading not only is good for us, and often entertaining; it is essential for the maintenance of civil society. Pass the word.


© 2009 Robert Wilfred Franson

R. W. Franson's
Buying Books Online
Used-Book Standards and Surprises,
or Ploys Pleasant and Unpleasant

R. W. Franson's
Bookstore Memories
Stores Gone but not Forgotten
in Southern California

D. G. Wills'
Bookstore Questions and Answers
(no, not what you're thinking)


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