Last weekend, I was idly browsing Twitter when I stumbled upon the hashtag #NatWritCon, live tweets from the National Writers’ Congress. I was particularly interested in a panel with Kat Mayo from BookThingo, who suggested that cover reveals and blog tours are over, most readers finding them boring. Initially, I agreed and then I got to thinking…what is the natural successor to the book blog and how things are being marketed?
Over the last five and a bit years (aka since I’ve been blogging), the world of blogging has changed a lot. When I started Sam Still Reading, it was for two reasons – one, to improve my typing speed and two, to have a permanent place to house my book thoughts and collection. I would never have dreamed of being approached by people I considered part of the ‘real world’ of books – publishers, authors, editors and booksellers. Who was I to encroach on a world I felt I had no legitimate part in?
Of course, today I regularly speak with many of these people. I’ve even met some of them! Would I have it any other way? While sometimes I’d love the freedom to choose a book solely as my choice – no review pressures, no self-imposed guilt for not reading something within a week of release, I don’t think I would. There are publicists who know my reading tastes better than myself. I’ve had access to books, authors and genres I would have been unlikely to take a second look at if left to my own devices. I’ve met some great people. Do I feel I belong? I’m still not 100% sure – as a reader yes, but I felt a bit uncomfortable at a recent event for industry. Normally I’m used to holding the floor in my work domain but here I felt humbled to be a part of it. While book reviewers and bloggers are becoming a more accepted part of the book stratosphere, we’re still only a small (but significant) part of it.
There has been much said on how bloggers do things for love/books (though they might be a similar thing here), not money. I’m not going to touch on that. But what about the readers of book blogs? What do they want? From my perspective (I have about 50 book related blogs on my blog reader), there are certain bloggers that I trust for recommendations. If they recommended reading shopping lists or tort law, I’d add it to my wish list if they liked it. Some have similar tastes to mine, others convince me to try something new. There are other blogs that I like for their non-book content – photos, pets or just general chatter. I’m a sucker for books acquired posts or lists of books around a theme (e.g. for a spring day, when it’s stormy and horrible outside). But lately, I’ve found I’ve enjoyed posts about reading and book related content, sometimes at the expense of reading reviews.
I’ve participated in quite a few book tours, and probably will continue to do so for books/authors I really enjoy. I try to read what others thought after I’ve written my review, but I don’t always. But if there’s a blog tour going around a lot of the blogs I follow and I’m not interested, I’ll switch off. I probably won’t even open the second or subsequent reviews. As for cover reveals, it’s not something I’m really interested in as a reader. I still read quite a bit on my eReader where covers (if you get one) are black and white and boring or just the title. Covers can be important in making me pick up a book in store, but 10 blogs showing the same cover over and over? No, it’s not for me. Yes, it will imprint the book in my head but will it be in a good way? Will I just feel that sense of annoyance again? (If anyone has done a study of if cover reveals increase sales, please let me know!)
So what’s next for the book blog world? It’s great to get book buzz happening, but market oversaturation is not good for anyone. I know there are quite a few vloggers out in the YA book world- will we be talking instead of typing in the future to spread book love? Will there be a new kind of blog tour with say a release of the first chapter of a book and Blog A has the first 250 words, followed by Blog B, then C etc.? Would you as a reader follow that?
Will there be more kinds of book-related posts like Book Riot has for example? Are lists the next big thing (e.g. 10 books to read on Friday 13th, 5 books to read if you love boarding school stories)?
Or, is it still enough just to write reviews of the books you’ve read?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. You might have noticed that I’ve been trying to review less and discuss bookish related things more. I think that this helps you, the reader, to get to know me better. It’s also challenging me more to think seeing as I’ve achieved my first objective – I can type very quickly now!