I've spent a little time over the past two days printing out invitations and planning my schedule for the upcoming AASL Conference. I was reminded of these posts, discussing the ethics of accepting perks from the vendors.
I've consulted for a few publishers, accepting free books in exchange. I've helped another with a new database, accepting a free trial. At conferences, I gladly go to the breakfasts and lunches they sponsor to learn about the new products (or twists on old ones). I'll pick up ARCs, pens, coffee mugs, posters.
Is this ethical? I won't promote a product I don't honestly believe in on this blog - and despite my accepting the freebie, I'll even denigrate one I think is bad (just look at some of my book reviews!). I don't think that the vendors are giving this stuff away to buy good press - although I'm sure they'd love it - or to guarantee a sale. If I treat all vendors, those with freebies and those without, equally, it's ethical.
Some have higher standards, but I suspect part of that comes from a position of higher visibility. If you can sway hundreds, or even influence them slightly, then it's best to not partake. If you speak for an organization, or are clearly associated with one (as I am, in other places and at other times), then a higher level is needed. But here, as Lazygal, I feel freer because I'm not speaking on anyone's behalf. Caveat venditor.