Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why do we (book) blog?

The Reading Ape has recently written a whole host of posts* about why do we blog, what's the purpose of book blogging, where is book blogging going and if you haven't already, you need to start reading those entries because they are fantastic. Most recently he's posed Eight Questions about the State and Future of Book Blogging and figured I like my opinions so I'll post my responses. And I'll post them on my in own blog rather than the comments for a couple reasons: it's what everyone else is doing (blogging peer pressure!), I don't want to have this giant comment with a lot of my rambling taking up his blog space, and then selfishly I can have another post up here and thus (maybe) drive more traffic here. So there you go: blogging is a lot like high school. Please don't ask me to finish that analogy though. I'm done intro-rambling, so now onto the questions

1. What does book blogging do best?
Book blogging offers a casual way to review and discuss books, without the pretentious trappings of some of the established reviewers in publications like NYTimes or academic papers. Not to say either of those are bad or should be done away with, but they already have their place and book blogging is the amateur's response to wanting something different.

2. If you write a book blog, why do you?
I started my blog after I complained one too many times to Boyfriend that my English degree was being wasted and he suggest I start writing. He'd been suggesting I write some fiction for awhile, but that seemed so daunting after not writing anything other than emails for so long. He suggested a blog and I like books so I went with that. I started the blog initially as a means to drive discussion about books, like a reading group online but that never really worked out so I moved into discussing bookish things and discuss/reviewing books as I'm reading them.

3. What do you think the future of book blogging is?
Book blogging seems to be growing and certain blogs gaining the popularity/legitimacy (whichever publisher's go for) to have author's reaching out to blogs for book reviews. I'm sure this means more blogs will be taken over by publishing houses or just in general become "respected" reviewers, like those I mentioned in question 1. Essentially becoming traditional media instead of social media. But enough blogs, even those very popular ones with lots of quality reviews, will remain within the social sphere. At least I hope this will be the case. Awesome blogs, please don't leave me with the I-post-nothing-but-memes crowd.

4. What do your favorite book bloggers do?
My favorite blogs have well thought out, engaging, interesting posts that are either reviews or a discussion about some book-related topic. Some do take part in the memes (they can be fun) but they don't make it the primary point of their blog. And because they're a blog, the tone is conversational, it's casual and my favorites are usually funny or at least make me smile. If I read a book review from one of my favorite bloggers, I feel like I'm getting a book recommendation from a friend instead of a reviewer. 

5. If you could tell all book bloggers one thing, what would it be?
When you post things that you don't care about because you think it will get you more traffic, your readers can tell. And then they'll leave and you'll have a bunch of readers that are following you because of stuff you don't even care about. Quit it. Write about what you care about in a way that will reach the audience you want and ignore the followers number.

6. If you could change one thing about book blogging, what would it be?
Book blogging is so diverse, I don't know that there's anything I'd change about it overall. I don't read the reviews that just consist of "ZOMG I loved this book sooooooo much and you should go out and read it right now kthxbai" but I suppose other people do so I won't start wishing those away. I don't like the all-memes, all-the-time blogs, but again, they have an audience so if that's what they want, go for it. There are quality book blogs out there, even if I have to do some searching to find them and I'm happy that you can find pretty much any genre or tone you want. 

7. How do you think book blogging fits into the reading landscape?
For me personally, blogging has expanded what I read. I've challenged myself more than I think I would if I wasn't blogging, reading classics alongside Christopher Moore and Bill Bryson. There are so many different reading challenges out there that I'm not necessarily taking part of, but plenty of people seem to that open up new works that may have gone untouched if the reader wasn't given this little push from the blogging world.

8. What about your own book blogging would you like to do better/differently?
I want to improve my own reviewing or discussion topics. I want to dig deeper into the text of a book and put more time into the posts I write. Sometimes I rush through posts and I'm sure they could use another editing pass or two before I thrust them upon the public. I like posting a couple times a week and I'm also lazy, hence the superficiality of some of the posts.  

If you have have opinions on these questions, and I'm sure you do, you should post your answers and head over to The Reading Ape to let him know.

*Rhymes make me giggle.

The title of this post gets the song "Why Rock?" by The Aquabats stuck in my head, which is why I chose it. Why do we blog? (Blog!) Why not? I think I need more sleep. Or coffee.

Updated to make easier to match question with the answer.