When it comes down to it, this past year has left an impact on our wonderful community. So much so that we wanted to talk a bit about some of the things that stood out to us, both the good and the bad. We’re all one big family here and families aren’t without their ups and downs, so let’s chat a bit about some of those.
ARCs have taken the book community by storm. We have the opportunity to read books months in advance, to promote what we love, to warn people against what we dislike. These early copies can cause quite a stir among the bookishly inclined. Yet while there’s a lot of good around them, this year I’ve seen so much trouble as well.
While many readers continue to use ARCs for their intended use — early book promotion — others have begun abusing them. Hoarding multiple copies at conventions, selling copies illegally, and even simply treating them as status symbols. Some readers act as if they’re entitled to these early copies when they’re provided to us for free in exchange for promotion and reviews. It’s created an atmosphere where I almost wish they didn’t exist because they seem to cause more trouble than they’re worth. I understand the worth of ARCs but it comes at a price in the community.
I love ARCs. I love reading books early because I get so excited and the wait until the release day is TORTURE. But in the end, do us bloggers need them?
In answer to your question, Austine, no…I don’t think bloggers truly need them if they are going to act this way. I agree with you when you say that ARCs have become a status symbol. If you don’t get ARCs then you must not be a great blogger. That mentality isn’t right. I don’t get physical ARCs and I still think I’m a pretty great blogger. I may not be super popular or have a lot of followers, but my words and the time I put into my reviews still matter.
If we want to continue getting ARCs, then something in this community needs to change. Obviously the publishers think the same way, since they are starting to limit the ARCs sent to bloggers even more. Getting ARCs is a privilege, not a right… to bloggers or anyone.
There has been a lot of talk in the blogging community about diversity and while there are both positives and negatives to this, today we want to focus on the good things diversity has brought us. With the call for diversity, we have opened so many worlds to explore. There should be no more similar plot lines, no more uniformity, and we can all stop complaining that “we’ve read it before” because we haven’t. I myself am not exempt from reading books that are familiar to me, but this past year especially, I have opened myself up to so many new books. I have followed people who only recommend diverse reads and it has been such a wonderful change. I have discovered worlds I never knew existed and all I could say was “I want more.”
The people who are complaining that diversity is taking over too much don’t know what they’re talking about. We NEED diversity. We need to be able to feel comfortable in our own skins and the only way for that to happen is for people to be informed about what it was..no IS like for people of other races, sexual orientations, etc. We need to get it out of our heads that the only way is our way because if the world continues how is has been, we will be destroyed before we can even hope to make any progress.
I think Tia pretty much nailed this one on the head. Diversity has started a roaring fire in the book community and I’m more than happy to watch it burn. So many voices have gone unheard for far too long and now that they’re speaking up, it’s caused quite a stir. It’s actually amazing! So many books I hadn’t been aware of are being thrown in my face and I can’t write them down fast enough!
It’s true, we need diversity, now more than ever. To those wishing to fight this progress, there’s no use. It’s coming. CHANGE is coming. And it’s going to be spectacular.
Books for Trade
Oh books for trade…we’ve had our ups and downs this year. While many of my interactions were pleasant, at the very least, what I’ve seen come from the tag (as well as Facebook groups later on in the year) truly amazed me. A community that speaks of wanting to help each other auctions off ARCs and other books for the price of your arm, a leg, your soul. Not to mention the drama the tag breeds (specifically on Twitter). I wasn’t around when the trading first began but from the months since I rejoined the community, I’ve watched it all grow worse and worse.
And yet despite it all trading is great. You can collect your favorites. You can have access to more books than you could’ve gotten before. It’s great, despite the negativity surrounding it. I’m conflicted when it comes to trading because more and more those bad seeds seem to be appearing but it’s also a great idea. So going into 2017, I want to see more GOOD trades. Communication. Less drama (we don’t need it). Trading has the potential to be fantastic for everyone involved if everyone treats each other with kindness and respect.
TBTB Santa and Other Love Hashtags
This year I participated in The Broke and The Bookish Secret Santa for the first time in 3 years. I had been away from a lot of the social aspect of blogging the last few years because, one I felt pressured to read and review and I couldn’t handle it anymore, and two life just got in the way. I had started college and was in another country and I just didn’t have the time or patience.
But this year something was different. I had joined NK, I was working two jobs and could actually afford to participate. So I did. And honestly the love and support I saw in this community was amazing. Everyone was sharing each other’s excitement about the items they were buying, they shared pictures, we all tried to guess who had us. It was a very different experience from the one I had when I first participated. It could possibly be that I just didn’t allow myself to get the *full* experience the first time, but I loved how different this time was! I wish more things could be like this. We need a lot more love in this community and I’m very glad we have things like #TBTBSanta and other hashtags that promote blogger/author/book love.
Roles as Bloggers
With all of this happening in our little community, what role do we, the bloggers, really play? It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. What is the point of book blogging? Sure, we love books, we love talking about books, but we don’t need to blog to do that. So where do we fit? We aren’t selling books directly like in a store. We’re not reviewing for big magazines and newspapers (at least not the vast majority of us).
I see book bloggers as professional book lovers. We take it one step above the casual book lover by reading AND promoting the book across social media, through word of mouth, and by interacting with both authors and publishers to help send these books into the world with the biggest book birthday party we can. To me, we are the step between, seeing bits of both sides of the track and I think it’s truly a special place to be.
I’m not sure if this makes sense but I think a lot of people underestimate the “power,” if you will, of bloggers in the book industry. And personally, I think we have a lot more influence than people think.
I’ve seen a lot of complaint about this particular topic. Especially with the implementation of new rules for BEA in requiring bloggers to have recommendation letters and the cost of tickets going up to $300. Bloggers were feeling like they weren’t appreciated. In some cases, we shouldn’t expect all of these things (like ARCs) to be handed to us, but in others, we really aren’t appreciated as much as we should be.
Bloggers have a lot of power. We are the one people go to for recommendations. It is our reviews that people read in order to get a better understanding for a book they are anticipating. We are the first line and without us, authors would get a lot less promotion than they do.
We wrote this discussion post for a reason. We wanted to talk about the good and the bad that we have seen in this community lately. But we also wanted to talk about the real reason for Beat the Backlist. Beat the Backlist is a challenge that is supposed to showcase the older books that we pushed to the side for new books. This post is a way for us to tie everything together. Which is why, tomorrow, Austine and I will be challenging each other! We have each come up with a challenge for the other to complete during this year. However, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to know exactly what that challenge is.
We can’t wait for y’all to see what we have in store for you this year. This challenge started as something personal but has grown into a pledge almost 200 readers strong! This year we WILL read the backlist titles. We will give them the love they’ve been missing as we get caught up in the newest shiny book on the shelf. I’ve seen a mentality lately where a book doesn’t seem to be good enough to read if it’s not an ARC. In case you weren’t aware, books don’t expire! You can read them even if they’ve been published! Crazy, right? So this year, Tia and I will challenge each other, but we also challenge you to look at your reading habits and ask yourself if you’ve been giving preference to the new books. If you have a TBR out of control. If you’re ready to Beat the Backlist.