Oh, gosh, the internet drama has started again. I was trying to just stay out of it, but there is a huge disconnect between how some authors view bloggers and vice versa, and I just couldn’t stop myself from posting up my thoughts. Here are some links so you can get a little background into the issue. The Story Siren interviewed Author X about the value of book bloggers, and then Reading Teen had a rebuttal. There are many, many more, if you take the time to Google. Here’s mine:
First off, Author X, most book bloggers aren’t blogging for your benefit. They are blogging for the benefit of other readers. I don’t work in the publishing biz, I have no aspirations to do so, and I don’t know any authors on a personal level. I try to keep as much distance between us as possible, so that my reading experience is not biased in any way. I want to read a book and form opinions about it based on its own merit, not whether or not I like the person who wrote it. I follow a few authors on Twitter, but for the most part, I don’t engage with them, and follow mainly to glean information about upcoming books or cover reveals.
I have a full time job in the computer industry. I work about sixty hours a week. I also have a family and hobbies outside of reading. I devote so much time to my blog and to books because I love them. I don’t know what I would do to fill in the time that I currently spend reading, blogging, browsing Amazon and Goodreads. Well, actually, I guess I would be watching TV, playing video games, and going to movies. The fact that I choose to spend my limited free time immersed in bookish activities says a lot about how much I love the industry. I only have one friend who I would consider a reader, and that’s it. One! Most of my friends play video games or watch the boob tube, and they are perfectly content to do that. More power to them for making the decision to spend their time and their money on those pursuits.
I started blogging to share my excitement about the books I read with others. Since I don’t have anyone in my “real” life to discuss books with, I went ahead and set up a virtual portal to air my views. When I first started, I only read graphic novels. I had drifted away from prose books because I grew bored with them. Then I discovered some book blogs, got interested in a few titles, and KABAM, I am reading more than ever before. I read about six books a week, both graphic novels and prose books, and I try to write about everything I read.
Based on my own experience, I purchase more than 10 books a month, all based on information learned from other blogs. I don’t have the luxury of heading out to the local brick and mortar bookstore – there isn’t one close to me, and with the amount of time I spend working, I don’t want to spend my weekend driving from bookstore to bookstore hoping that one of them will have the book I am looking for. I purchase 99.9% of my reading material online. It is convenient, it is cheaper, and I don’t have to go anywhere. If I see a title I think might interest me on another book blog, I hop over to Goodreads or Amazon, read up a little about it, and make my purchasing decision based on my internet browsing. That’s it. The days when I had to time to sip a coffee and wander aimless down the aisles at Borders or B&N are long gone, replaced by the demands of my job and my lack of free time. I would far rather get up early on a Saturday, make myself a cup of coffee, and aimlessly browse the endless informational stream that is the internet.
If I don’t see a book on a blog or somewhere else online, I don’t know about, and I don’t buy it (obviously). While I get tired of seeing posts about the same books and authors, you can bet that I know the titles of the “next big thing” and I probably even scanned through several interviews, which sometimes does pique my interest in a book that I originally dismissed. Overexposure isn’t always a bad thing.
I think that a lot of the, I’ll call it confusion, that authors feel about bloggers is a result of authors not understanding how book buyers, younger ones in particular, purchase books today. Most bloggers are constantly “tuned” in to Twitter, Facebook, and all of the other social networking sites out there, and that’s how we communicate and gather information. To dismiss book blogs as a waste of time or as not helping to spur book sales is not a very business savvy stance to take. Go ask Amanda Hocking how she feels about book blogs. Here, wait, I’ll give you a link.
I don’t know why I get all worked up about this particular issue, because in the long run, I don’t blog for authors. I blog for the books that I have read and enjoyed. I didn’t want to have this long, rambling post about something that is really a non-issue, either, but I am disheartened that so many in the publishing biz, authors in particular, are so dismissive of the readers of their books. Authors, I am your target market. I am a reader, I communicate with other readers, I buy your books. It is disturbing that you are so out of touch with your audience and that you dismiss the legions of book enthusiasts who spend so much of their free time chatting up books. Even “negative” reviews have some benefit, because at least somebody is talking about your book! Book bloggers provide you with free marketing, and I once again ask you – how can free marketing be a waste of your time or earn the scorn that you show to your readers, who just happen to be bloggers?