My how book blogging has changed… and I am sad

This past year – especially the latter part, I have felt a difference in the book blogosphere…. blow ups on twitter, and sadly some of the bloggers that I swear are the ones that helped me in the early days, that made me LOVE book blogging have drifted away – posting rarely or not at all… and that… makes me sad.  I know lives change, priorities change, but there was a time I could list the blogging gurus of the community – and now… I just don’t know.

At BEA (Book Expo of America)  this past year I seen some book bloggers throw fits about not getting a book they wanted, running and grabbing every book they could, and loudly speaking their displeasure if they waited in a line for a book that ran out of stock before they got one.   I was ashamed at the fact that they did not realize that they were a part of something bigger… they represented a great whole…  and were giving us as Book Bloggers a bad name.  Honestly… it reminded me a bit of the snotty selfish girl in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory….

"I got a golden ticket to BEA and now I want ALL THE BOOKS NOW!!!!! GIMMY!"

(It made me think that maybe BEA going forward should have a criteria for book bloggers that attend…

  1. You must be an established book blogger (4+ months) – showing consistency in posts and book reviews…

(just thinking out loud…)

And ok… I kid a bit above so this does not seem like a downer post because really – it’s not a downer post.  It’s more about changes and accepting them and knowing that we still are a community of women and men who enjoy reading and talking about books. 

So what does this have to do with me and my role as a Book Blogger?  I still love book blogging.  There are so many wonderful things about this community that I love.  I did not know three years ago when I started that I would someday meet many of you. (*waves!*) That is still like a dream to me… and that just made me love it more.

I wish I would have found book blogging years ago so I could have been more a part of the evolution of it all.  As it is, I am still glad we had such good years together and hope that the community will build strong once again.

I do try to do my part by helping bloggers who email me with questions, connecting bloggers to one another through the Monday meme, and making it a point to comment when I can…

I don’t think what we have is over.  I think it is changing yes, and change can hurt a bit.  I want to hang with people who want to talk books… who get excited about new authors, new releases, and the next great read coming around the corner.  I will continue to do that as long as I have a passion to do so and for me… that passion still burns strong. 

Note:  I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago when I noticed another book blogger friend went off the grid.  I wasn’t sure I would publish it, it was more just to words to my thoughts.  Then I seen a post at My Friend Amy’s that said a bit of what I had been thinking too.  She encouraged me to post my thoughts and here they are. 

If you are a book blogger – or if you are a person who just likes to talk about books as well as other things… what do you think of all of this?  Have you noticed any changes since you started blogging?  If you are a reader – have you noticed changes in the blogs you like to read – for better?  For worse? 

182 thoughts on “My how book blogging has changed… and I am sad

  1. I haven’t been to BEA before, but I would be disheartened to see some of the things that you’re reporting here. For most of the fall, I was barely posting after over a year and a half of posts between 5-7 days a week, but I’m slowly getting back into it, and hope those you’ve been missing will be, too.

  2. I have been reading about a lot of blogger burnout…a lot of reviewers who are still excited but just getting a wee bit tired of trying to do everything…the twitter squabbles are kind of sad…

    Perhaps sometimes we forget that we can easily hurt people with words…and once those words are out there they don’t go away…

  3. It’s easy to fall into the temptation of going gung-ho for books.. but I think (hopefully) many new book bloggers (like myself back in the day) quickly get over that and settle into a groove.

    I do wish I had time to do more commenting and interaction, but to do that I’d have to sacrifice reading time, which made me examine my own priorities. And I came to the conclusion that I began my book blog to create a record, for myself, of my reading and to help reinforce my reading since I do read at a fast rate.

    Has it done that? Yes, and then some. I consider that a success – free books, great friends, fancy dinners.. those are all just special bonuses.

    1. LOL – all good points Lydia – I do not have time to comment like I used to and still feel a bit bad about that, but like you, I need to get in my reading time and the time to write the posts too 🙂

  4. Sheila, I do agree with the comments you made-it is like the buffet lines-people take and take and take. I understand life taking over and not having time to post however if you are going to attend an event and take the freebies maybe their should be criteria-however there is an entrance fee so maybe one has met the criteria.

    1. I understand the excitement of BEA – shoot, I get that way too… but being angry about a book not available and yelling is totally uncalled for, I felt that behavior like that could hurt us all.

  5. great article, I haven’t gone to the BEA but I’ve read enough posts about it and the controversy it started with what you stated people complaining and whining about whatever. I have noticed that some people spend most of their time when not book reviewing complaining about checking emails and how they have so many to go through. The thing that gets me are some of these contests/giveaways it use to be follow and comment, which was easy enough, then it was the google docs filling out easy as well, now it seems through the rafflecopter you have to use all sorts of logins, plus following, plus twitter following it makes me wonder when a person puts up some of these giveaways if they had to jump through those hoops that they have others jump through, as for the BEA I would love to go but can’t afford to with special needs kids x4 so I look to people like you who go and share you experience with us. I find it sad when I read about bloggers acting childish about an event that I’m sure cost tons of money to put together. I’ve noticed lots of changes and I’m sure more are on their way. I stick with the bloggers I’ve connected with in a positive way and appreciate what they have to say, your blog is one of the first ones I’ve followed cause I appreciate the work you put into it. As for the childish ones I just walk away knowing I’m not missing much by leaving. Sorry for hogging your comment area just thought I’d share my thoughts and it was a great article to read!

  6. What I have noticed in the three years that I’ve really been blogging is that some of the bloggers I “met” in the beginning have dropped off a bit, but others have popped up to take their place. Some are now reaching out to me with questions, while I was the questioning one back then.

    I still have a lot to learn, though; and I know that I’ve diluted my blog presence by having so many blogs. However, I am having fun and connecting with a few people here and there, and have a few regular memes in which I participate, moving them around to my various sites.

    Earlier today, I visited a blog that spoke of a blogger “going off” in a review and an author reacting back; both behaved badly. But I do believe these kinds of things are the exception.

    Or perhaps I just choose to see the positives.

    Just keep hanging in there and doing what you do. You have encouraged me and many other bloggers.

  7. I really liked reading this – I’m a new(ish) blogger – I’ve been blogging since June 2011 and I’m very conscious that I’m coming in to an established community. I love being a part of it, I love what I do, and the other bloggers and book lovers that I come in contact with. I have also noticed lately a negativity – especially on Twitter. I’ve noticed some established bloggers expressing discontent (they aren’t quiet about it – and a lot of them aren’t even nice about it) – that coupled with author blow-ups at bloggers makes me feel heavy. I may not know the changes over the period of time that you have, but I’ve definitely also noticed a shift. Thanks for this post – I also hope things start looking up as well.

    1. Right Hannah, I have only heard some second hand things, did not witness the Twitter blow ups myself as I was not on it… but know that even if we do this because we love it, we still need to keep a level of professionalism when dealing with each other and publishers and authors.

  8. I really liked your post, Sheila. While I did notice the gimme epidemic at BEA, I haven’t noticed the absence of book bloggers I follow as much. I do tend to follow more authors in the early stages of their writing careers though so they might be more intent on building their fan base?? Either way I think your idea of placing stipulations on bloggers at conferences like BEA is a great idea and one that’s bound to make it a more positive experience for all involved. 🙂

    1. I started in June 2009 Sami and at that time the connections between the book bloggers was amazing. It is still there but not what it was – maybe part of that is the growth. I run into new blogs all the time… I guess there becomes a time when you just can not keep up with everyone.

      The first time I went to BEA in 2010, I did not see that grabby stuff.

  9. I sometimes think people forget they are dealing with a professional business here. Yes, you may just be blogging about books, but once you open yourself up to authors & publishing houses, you’ve taken on the role of a more professional side to things. I have to agree with your criteria for attending BEA, though I have not attended it myself. I know a lot of book bloggers read YA (myself included) and the age of said bloggers ranges drastically. I wonder if places like BEA are meant for those under 18. Perhaps a separate event could be established for younger bloggers?

    I’ve been a book blogger for a year and a half now & I’m like you, I will continue to do it as long as my passion for talking about what I read is there. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    1. Thanks Ginger you are right – once we start working with publishers and authors and receiving books for reviews, I think we do need to step it up a notch in professionalism in how we communicate around these books.

  10. I personally have fallen off the meme bandwagon. I started a new job at a bookstore in the fall and since then I just don’t have the time/energy to make all the visits. I do try every so often, as time permits, but I also have to balance family and work and other commitments. I am sad that I have had to relax those things that I once found great joy in but I cannot do it all. I don’t know how you do it Sheila, I am always amazed by you! Kudos to those of you who do it all. Perhaps I will join in again. In the meantime I still post reviews and welcome your visits and comments. I promise to visit those who comment.

  11. Great post! I’ve been blogging for a while (personal posts) but book blogging for just a little over a year now. I love to read and always wrote reviews for my own personal reflection, and decided to share my love for certain books in this way. In just a year I too have noticed changes. I’ve not been to BEA, and tbh I’m not sure I would want to go through all of the drama. The book blogging community has gotten more and more competitive. And all I hear about is… “followers this and followers that” well first off, the number of followers don’t always have a big impact on a blog. Its about the content, consistency and the ways of marketing your blog and/or posts. Most of the time I click “follow” on a blog and never look at it again… unless I see a post on Twitter or something from the same blog. I remember my first ARC, I thought it was a big deal (mainly bc it was from my favorite author of all time), but the bitterness and arguing and jealousy that goes on about who gets an arc of what book is ridiculous! it wasn’t like that at all when I first started blogging. And who cares about half that crap… its a book for goodness sakes, and eventually, it’ll be out on the shelves and EVERYONE can read it! The twitter drama with the blogger/author bad review thing… I’m not even going to go there. Absolutely unprofessional. PERIOD!

  12. I think there are more book bloggers and less books to go around. In the old days (ha!) before ebooks, there were more print books at BEA available (I read about this from agent blog Joshua Bilmes). These days, publishers want to use Netgalley rather than print so many review copies. Printing review copies costs a lot of money. Ebooks cost too, but not as much.

    And with so many book bloggers, the publishers and authors have to pick and choose which ones are going to get the books. Even established bloggers have been asked about their readership lately because there’s a limited supply of books!

    Authors and publishers get a LOT of requests. They can’t hand out a book to everyone who asks. So you’re right–show that you have a blog and post regularly. Show that you have an audience that participates. Four months is a good track record, but remember you’ll be competing with blogs who have been doing book blogging for YEARS.

    Another problem is the grabbing up every book available–if you’re a single blogger, you can’t read and blog about all of them. Yet some bloggers send out MASS emails (I’ve been on some of these lists) asking for “All your books in all your series and then I’ll pick and choose which ones to review.”

    If you really want to read a book, ask for it–but don’t just accept every copy that comes along. Publisher do notice if you’re regularly requesting–and whether you review any, some or none.

    Book blogs who have guest reviewers or multiple reviewers often have the ability to review more books–and keep a larger audience. Publishers notice this as well.

    And of course bloggers who are out there on some of the book sites: Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, Twitter AND blogging are valuable resources. These days, just like an author must try to stand out–so must a blogger.

    Blogging is a lot of work. It takes a commitment and a lot of time. Some days it isn’t much fun. So it will keep evolving. That’s good news…and sometimes bad news!!!

    1. Maria, I think you hit the nail on the head. Blogging is a lot of work, and to have the group as a whole so poorly represented at BEA and in egregiously inappropriate mass e-mail requests, makes those of us who take pride in our professionalism extremely frustrated and disheartened.

      I like to think that the strong, and the committed, will evolve and stay strong. I hope so, anyway!

  13. Wow, Sheila, (and Amy)! Thank you for your honesty! I wrote a post very similar to this after coming home from BEA, and witnessing the galley grabbing (ugh), but I thought I would be a bit like Veruca by complaining about the *dark side* of book blogging. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for what I had just experienced. I didn’t post it…but I saved it, because it was how I felt at the time. (There was an entire section outlining how 1st year bloggers should attend a mandatory “Blogger Ettiquete session” at tthe Book Blogger Convention PRIOR to attending BEA.) Many of those feelings still pertain, but it’s like anything else in life – it is what YOU make of it. Call it selective hearing, if you will.

    Sheila, you and I sat next to one another at one of the sessions at the BBC, and listened to the voices of entitlement, as they stood before a panel of the most respected Publishing houses in the world and whined about how long it took them to get an advanced copy of a book, or some such drivel.

    I VERY RARELY request books any longer. In fact, I probably only respond to 1 pitch a month. I have my few regular contacts that I trade e-mails with, but that’s it. The bottom line is, I would still write about books without all the “frills” that new book bloggers have come to expect.

    Speaking of new Book Bloggers, I have been in the position of inspiring a few young readers to start blogs of their own. I have taken my mentoring position quite seriously, and have tried to guide them toward the “Jedi ways” of book blogging. Alas, one of my apprentices went to the dark side, asking who to contact to get such and such book, how many books could she ask for, and how long would they take to come in. *sigh* we can only guide the way…

    I do feel like there are people out there, especially the professionals in the industry, that appreciate what bloggers like you and I do (I won’t name the others that fall into this category, but we both know who they are). We love what we do, we take it seriously, and we have fun. We don’t expect the gift wrapped books, tours, cocktail parties or meet and greets, but we are honored to be there when we are invited.

    While this area of the blogosphere has become a bit saturated, I feel that as long as I Turn away from the Twitter Drama, Ignore the bratty novices, and Blog away on my happy little Island of ignorant bliss, Connect with the bloggers I know and love, and my small group of dedicated readers, I’m happy!

    I can’t let the Veruca Salts of the blogosphere ruin this for me. I love it too much…

    1. Awesome Alison! I love that you are being a teacher of Jedi ways…. LOL…. I have helped a friend of mines daughter as well… but work hard on telling her that you review a book… and more will come – but always keep it real… review, receive, repeat. 🙂

      I like also how you talked about our own little islands of bliss and ignorance… I like mine too… I will continue doing what I love.

    2. I’m not trying to argue with you here, but you make it sound like it’s arrogant or greedy for a new or novice blogger to request an ARC or review copy from a publisher/publicist/author, or to even want to make such a request. I’m a novice blogger (I’ve been blogging for about 5 months) and I’ve requested and received quite a few ARCs. Does this mean I feel entitled to such “frills” as you’ve called it or do I feel as if I should expect free books? No, absolutely not. I’m grateful for each and every book I receive.
      While I agree that newbie bloggers should start start blogging because they want to talk about something they love-books- and not because they want free books, I don’t think novice blogger should necessarily be discouraged from getting out there,making contacts, and yes, even requesting books. Furthermore, to suggest that ALL first year bloggers are in need of some kind of Blogging Ettiquete class before attending events such as BEA and to call out so called “bratty novices”, seems like an unfair generalization of new bloggers…again, I’m not trying to stir up drama of any kind, I’m just sharing my thoughts as a novice blogger.

      1. Aeicha, my intent was not to lump ALL Newbie book bloggers into the same category, I’m not even positive that the display of greediness wsa only new bloggers, but I was embarrassed to be in the same room as SOME of the book bloggers I saw at BEA, yes. Do I think they needed an etiquette class before calling themselves a book blogger at BEA? You bet! Unfortunately, I’m not their mother. Hey, I was shown great generosity when I first started blogging, and that was wonderful, and something I have never taken for granted. Unfortunately, too many bloggers expect too much, and then get snippy when they don’t get it. Bratty? Absolutely. True, it sucks and it’s not fair that a few bad apples may spoil the bunch, but these apples stink, and their attitudes might just be the tipping point Drunk with power, maybe? Who knows. I hope you can understand my disappointment, and also understand that I did not mean “ALL” of anything.

        Allow me to say that I have seen some book bloggers come in, brand new, and knock my socks off! These bloggers have eclipsed me ten times over and then some! I tip my hat to these Newbies!

        Going back to my blissful island now…

        1. Thank you for the clarification and I completely understand where you’re coming from 🙂
          And I definitely agree that there are bloggers out there (new and old) who act as if they are entitled to things (whether that be books, swag, events, an author’s time) and do get less than gracious and mature when they don’t recieve these things. And yes they are an embarrasment to the blogging community as a whole.

  14. Interesting post! You’re right, the blogosphere has changed since we started. Several of the bloggers who supported me in the beginning have left blogging, most notably J. Kaye. It does seem that the blog world has gotten a little more crowded, which is amazing! So many new bloggers out there to share our love of books!

    I agree that bad blogger behavior at BEA was embarrassing, especially the biting! Yikes! I noticed that publishers didn’t seem as friendly to bloggers as they did the year before. Maybe you’re right that there should be stricter guidelines for admission, but I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    There have been dramas and blow-ups before, as well as divas who insist on enforcing the rules….but there are no rules! I ignore them and they seem to go away sooner or later.

    I’ve found some good friends, discovered great new authors, and have developed a few relationships with PR firms and publishers, which suits me just fine. I’m not a big fish in the blog pond, and am okay with that…. I just want to read my books and share my love of reading with other like-minded people!

    1. I love that you brought up J Kaye – she was one that really helped me too.
      And uhhh biting???? I did not hear about that one…. good grief. I guess as a publisher I would not be so thrilled to hand out books ot people acting that way either.

      I like the way you think… just do what makes us happy…. books and book chats for me 😉

      1. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one with fond memories of J.Kaye! She was incredibly generous with helping me get my feet wet in the blogosphere!

        And how did you miss hearing about the biting episode? Apparently someone was reaching for one of the last copies of a book and a woman bit her, then grabbed the copies and ran! I was in line behind the bitee and she told the story several times, as she still seemed in shock. Amazing what people will do…

        Going to stay on my little Island of bliss like Allison, keep my head down, and keep blogging along. 🙂

        1. J. Kaye can be found on Goodreads. I think she just wanted more time for reading and posting quick reviews on GoodReads. So she’s still around, if you want to contact her.

          1. Mardel, that crazy old bat can’t be found on GoodReads, She walked away from all the social networks to go hide in the swamps of Louisiana. The girl’s done gone native, living with gators and such.

            Sheila, I crawled out to come find you. 🙂 Missed your Morning Meanderings. Patty’s been keeping me up-to-date on what’s been going on in the book blogging world. Drama was always the downside for me. Glad to know you are still around.

            Big wave to alexia561 & Alison’s Book Marks. I’m coming by your place soon. 🙂

  15. Well, I have been around for awhile now (more than five years) and I definitely have seen the changes – some are good, some are not so good, some depress me. I think it is hard sometimes to just continue doing what we are doing without getting pulled into the drama (one reason I stay away from Twitter 95% of the time). I also think that as the books became more available from publishers, it changed the way some people began viewing book blogging (ie: as a money making scheme vs. because they love to read and share their love of books). I do get a lot of review books, but I have tried very hard to stay objective and professional about it. I also don’t like the “jumping through hoops” for book giveaways (I HATE when bloggers make someone become a “follower” just to enter a book giveaway)…I won’t enter giveaways who make me do a million things and I know I purposefully try to keep it simple when I do them.

    All that said – I have made a lot of wonderful friends through book blogging…and I still love to blog about books. I like being part of the book industry in a positive way…and as long as I enjoy it, I plan to stick around!

  16. I love that you posted about this Sheila, I have only been involved with book blogging for a year (actually a year almost to the day!) and have definitely noticed a lot of conflict in the past few months. I have stayed out of it but it also makes me a little sad Bloggers and authors fighting over negative reviews kind of scares me (believe it or not I am actually watching Gossip Girl right now and Dan’s father is telling him not to be one of those author’s who responds to every negative review on Amazon. Seriously – no joke, those were the words used. I’m a little freaked out that my blogging and tv viewing are so closely linked! 😛 ). I don’t understand why it has to be a battle.

    Anyways, that being said I am going to do my best to steer clear of the drama. I blog because I love books and I love the community that allows me to share this love and get turned on to new authors and books that I might not have heard about. I just purposly seek out those bloggers that seem to share the same

  17. I’ve been blogging for three years, and I’ve heard about some of the things you described. I know I frequent the same blogs but that’s because of the content of the new ones I come across seem to only have giveaways, or seem like PR only; not like true book blogs. Most of the book blogs I frequent have personal content as well as reviews. My blog has the same mix of personal and bookish info. I can say that my blogging has definitely evolved and become more well rounded as time has passed. My blog is not just a book blog anymore. Oh and I don’t go on Twitter.

    Anyone can blog the way they want, and anyone can read it. I do think when one starts book blogging, they become overwhelmed, see all these new books coming out and want in on the action. I think that’s natural because you start to feel left out of the conversation. That being said, maybe we bloggers should mix old books with new. Try to stem the flood of new books.

    With regards to BEA, I have never been, but I assumed there were some stipulations with regards to getting the free books. However, if you pay to get in to the expo, I assume you want some free books right? Regardless, this is just my opinion, but people in general, not just bloggers, feel they are entitled to anything and everything. People don’t have manners anymore and want tons of free cheese. And they will stomp on others to get it. There are so many rude people in life that I am not surprised some of them are book bloggers too.

    In the end, I guess it’s up to bloggers like us, to continue to discuss books and other book issues in meaningful ways, and hopefully the good will outweigh the bad. Sorry for the ramble but very thought provoking 🙂

  18. I’ve sen a lot of this as well although my being so preoccupied with thing ss this past year means I missed out on a lot of the drama. But I’ve heard about it. I have definitely limited myself to focusing on certain blogs where there is no drama and no sense of entitlement to review books, etc. it really saddens me, but I think there are still some people who care just about books and community than any of the competitiveness and all that.

    1. I like that Jenny and hope that publishers and authors see that too… there is still a nice size group of us who care.

      I find I review everything I read – many are my own books that I bought and couldn’t wait to share! 😀

  19. I saw some of the same behavior at BEA last year that you discussed in this post. It was quite discouraging.

    All we can do is post reminders like this one before BEA this year that book bloggers individual behavior represents our community as a whole.

  20. I haven’t been lucky enough to attend BEA Sheila, but I could not imagine why a blogger would act this way! Although we are helping authors by reading and reviewing their books, I still consider it a privilege to receive an ARC.

    As far as my personal blogging goes, I definitely do not spend as much time reading blogs or posting for that matter. I’ve been trying to improve my personal writing skills along with the many other projects that I am involved in, so that really limits my blogging time. But when I get the chance, I love it!

  21. A very interesting post Sheila! I’m in my 4th year of book blogging now and still love it but I’ve had to adapt, change and modify things over the years because you just can’t do everything or you do burn out.

    I’m not as prolific as some bloggers and I’ve had a couple of breaks from blogging (for a few weeks) over the years due to personal reasons but I’m still here. It is a committment and it does get tiring and it makes me sad when I run out of time to visit my favourite bloggers. But hey that’s life and you just do what you can.

    I guess I’m lucky being in Australia and away from some of the hype. I would like to attend a BEA some year but if I witnessed disgraceful behaviour I too would have something to say LOL. Rude and selfish people exist whatever the community but it’s up to the wider community to say it’s not approved of or tolerated 🙂

  22. Your very right Sheila. Blogger I feel let books distract them. And sometimes priorities change, so they blog less frequently. Blogging is something you have to be sure you want to devote time into. A passion. We are like vessels to get the promotion out for books yet undiscovered and authors more than just than hot book you may want to get your hands on. Great post.

  23. I’ve been hanging out in the pixel art community much longer than book blogging, and this is just a phase that all hobby things go through. When I started in the pixel arts, there were tons of forums to visit and share with; people had websites, maintained them and came up with fun layouts for them; there would be community wide challenges and contests. Over the last couple years, most forums have died; economy being what it is, or with people just losing interest and most sites cutting free hosting, the majority of websites are gone, or abandonned; and the contests get forgotten about. Many people have also turned to Deviantart to post instead a website, and that’s just impersonal. It seems to me its not dissimilar to what you’ve noticed in book blogging.

    Does BEA charge for the books handed out, or just whatever for the whole shebang? It seems like they should include tokens for X books per attendee, and when you run out of them you can go into a raffle for the remaining copies. If people are going to be as unprofessional as that about it, the publishers might not want to deal with it.

    1. Thanks for the comment! BEA does not charge for the books – they are usually ARC (advanced reader copies) that they are trying to get into the hands of those who will preview and promote them. It is, to me…. book heaven 😀

      I look at is as a privilege to be invited into such a community and take the role seriously. 🙂

  24. I have my favorite blogs I like to visit, I have them posted in my sidebar, that way I am able to keep up with them when they post something new. I haven’t had any bad experiences with any of them, they are all very nice blogger friends.

    I like playing a few of the memes each week. Some weeks I just don’t feel like blogging, esp. if I am busy. I also have 4 active blogs, so don’t blog on each one everyday, either. But now that the new year has started I keep saying I am going to close two of them, but never seem to get around to it. ; )

  25. For those asking about BEA (and other conferences) it’s all a bit unequal. Some bloggers are invited (and get in free.) Some pay to get in. Some get a “press pass” by applying for one (essentially free) but some bloggers, even with a free pass, pay to get to BEA so there are expenses involved.

    As for the books, it’s like any large conference. The publishers have lots of handouts (sometimes on CD or the like) or sometimes physical books. But from what I understand, in the last 5 years or so, there are less and less physical books available and in some cases, publishers have a smaller presence (smaller booth, combo booth, etc). The agent who blogged about it a couple of years ago talked about how there used to be far too many books to take home. As of a few years ago, he said there were some books that flat-out weren’t available or were only being given to certain entities (read: You had to be a well-known blogger or associated with a newspaper or review venue like publisher’s weekly, kirkus, etc.)

    Book bloggers do a valuable service and form a great community. MANY are very professional. There are just less books to go around!

    1. Thanks for sharing this information Maria, I have only been to BEA the past two years and thought there was a ton of books but had heard others say there was so much less than previous years. I imagine more book bloggers are going to BEA as well.

  26. I have been blogging for a while and by no means plan to stop, but have to admit I have noticed changes. Personally this last year blogging/reviewing was a bit stressful and less fun. I really hope that changes this year.

  27. I’ve been following book blogs for several years, but only blogging about a year now. I think it’s hard to break into because so many people are already established, and I simply don’t have as much time to devote as others. I post as much as I can, but with everything else going on in life, it’s like added pressure. Part of it is that so many other bloggers seem to be really aggressive in writing to publishers to request books, and I almost never do, which means I almost never am sent review books. I love NetGalley for this, because I don’t feel like I’m bugging some publisher to take time to package and ship a book.

    As for BEA, I was stoked to get to put names to faces. I actually said hi to you at one point, although I’m sure you don’t remember, and I was kind of awkward 🙂 I’m hoping to go again this year if I can find anyone to share hotel costs, but still feel like other people have special blogger friends already established. I’d LOVE to have some friends that I can get all geeky about books with. Even though I’m a librarian, I really don’t have that in my life, and it’s depressing.

    At the same time, at BEA I saw people being really strategic about ARC drops, texting each other to run across the floor, and it all seemed a bit much to me. If I don’t get an ARC there, I’ll just wait a while and buy it or get it from the library. I guess I just have different priorities. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the frenzy. Book bloggers can smell ARCs like sharks smell blood, and it drives ’em crazy!!!

    1. I felt that way too when I started… I had no idea how to get into blogging so I just started looking at the blogs I enjoyed to read… and seen what they did and went from there.

      I agree to with you on BEA – how fun is that to see people you only know from on line? I loved that – and it was all like we were old friends 😀

      I hope you do go to BEA again this year… it is fun to get all “book geeky”! 😀

    2. Oh shoot, if you want to talk books, don’t just blog! Join Goodreads or Shelfari or both until you find a bookgroup that wants to babble about the same books you love! I’m on one for cozy readers on Amazon that is great fun (we are OT a LOT):

      There’s several on Goodreads and a couple on Shelfari. You can read posts until you find one where you think you’ll be at home or start your own and invite people!!!

  28. Yes, I have noticed a difference in the blogosphere. Some of the experienced bloggers went on to monetize and/or become PR professionals and, the boundaries between what is legal and what is ethical were smudged. This created drama to be sure; but it also raised some important questions as to where blogging is headed as a whole. As social media, marketing and, blogger’s roles continue to evolve, the shape of the overall online book community will as well. Hopefully, favorite bloggers will be open to being flexible and capacious and maintain an interesting and compelling presence in the years ahead.

    The relationship between authors and bloggers also become more contentious. The online experience creates a falsely intimate aspect to many relationships: that the book community is is full of friends with the common interest of reading. So when one friend dislikes another’s writing, it’s more personal than if the author had been negatively reviewed by a professional reviewer in a traditional format. And too, the stakes are higher. Whereas a professional review may have been limited geographically, the impact of a bad review is more immediate within the golden hours of a new release, thanks to the immediacy of the internet. Also, the new form of the review, the blogger’s review (a combination of op-ed and criticism) is still hard to digest amongst traditionalists.

    Some other bloggers moved on (I watched two prolific blogs die from attrition) and some newer bloggers fizzled out, some feeling like they were whistling in the dark: With so many book blogs now it has become more difficult to create a solid following.

    And yes, the BEA experience was shocking. I worked a publisher’s booth and the tenor of the show was very different this year than in years past. BEA was never meant to be a book fair much less a public free-for-all, which in the end it felt like. There was a lot of jostling, grabbing and outright theft. It was very discouraging. Yes, there were some great meets-ups; but in the end it has really given some of the publishers pause as to how they choose to show next year, if at all.

  29. Very sad indeed! Your comments make me want to rethink attending BEA this summer. I planned to go last year since I live just outside the city but was invited to Italy and couldn’t pass this by. Do I want to associate myself with the blogger’s you mention… not really. But it would be fun to meet some people.

    I don’t read a variety of genre’s which narrows my readership, and I’m not interested in dystopia, sci-fi, or YA… this seems to be the largest book blogging space. I also have so many friends that read my blog, that post move I have transitioned it to bits of my life, fitness and books.

    Did you know I couldn’t read until I was in seventh grade? This seems to inspire so many mother’s, with children dealing with dyslexia and other learning challenges. I love this, so rewarding for me!

    Blogging several times a week for years is tough. Imagine starting a blog before you get married and now have young children. Life gets in the way.

    That said, I don’t expect to stop blogging any time soon. I have trying to streamline my posts though (ie: monday’s meme, Tuesday Fitness, a review or two a week, plus a misc post from time to time).

    1. Oh Mari – don’t rethink it – while there was a handful of the book bloggers I mentioned above – the majority are still amazingly nice people. I cant tell you enough ow much fun I had at BEA and how it is the experience of a lifetime… the people you meet, the authors you get to talk too, and a chance to thank the companies that work with you and meet them in person – there is a lot of good!

      I had no idea you could not read until 7th grade – that is amazing and bet inspiring to those who also struggle.

      1. The luxury of living in/near the city… day trips to meet people throughout the year! 🙂

        I hope we get to meet this year!

        Reading: my sixth grade teacher called me out on a book report, in front of the class and called my parents. I tried to write a book report from the synopsis on the back of the book! I got away with this method but I was soon diagnosed with a form of dyslexia were I could read but couldn’t retain anything I read. After years of intense retraining, I like to think I’m cured. HA!

    1. Shannon, you may have seen in earlier comments the mention of J Kaye? She was an amazing book blogger that I learned a lot from including responding to every comment… when you visited her blog you felt like you were having a conversation and I strive for mine to be that way as well. 🙂

  30. oh goodness…. i’ve only been blogging for four years and i could write a book about all the changes that have happened in that short of time. unfortunately it’s going to evolve as everything does, i think in the end the people that are the most passionate about it are still going to be there. that’s what keeps me going.

  31. I was at BEA this past year also and saw some of the unprofessional behavior that made me embarrassed to be a book blogger ~ what is up with some people?!?
    It has been sad to see some of my mentor blogs slack off or quit completely although I can certainly understand why – this is so time-consuming but so incredibly rewarding too (at least to me)
    my thoughts are lets keep on keeping on for as long as we can Sheila!

  32. Oh Sheila, what a lovely but sad post. I lost 3 blogging friends/favourites last year. I have noticed the difference since Sept/Oct.

    I chose to not FB or Twitter, blogging and networking here is enough for me. I would love to attend an event one day, maybe this year or next, haven’t decided yet.

    I consider myself an eclectic reader but a lover of suspense and at times feel like it is YA blogosphere, this is something to deal with at times.

    Blogging definitely is changing, I am in for the journey.

    1. I think bottom line – it is what we make of it – and while I miss those who have gone away from the books and reviews some of them are still around in conversations and I like that.

      I will hang on and see what the future holds 😉

  33. It’s always good to voice your opinions in this manner because you always find people who understand how you feel 🙂

    I’ve been blogging for 2 years and have been so fortunate to avoid a lot of the drama 🙂

    For me blogging has always been about connecting with other book lovers. When I started getting opportunities for review books I felt so honored and still am. I always say blogging and th Internet only magnify who you Already are. There will always be greedy bloggers and respectful, those that think they are OWED something and those that are grateful.

  34. i am not a blogger but follow a lot of blogs for reading ideas…..i have dropped blogs due to what you describe…offense at not getting the arc requested, bragging about getting so many free books you couldn’t possibly read them all, etc
    it sounds like if you are a blogger you should never have to buy a book again…just request it for free
    thought you’d like to see how an outsider reads into these things

    1. Thanks Diana, I appreciate that! 🙂 I enjoy the books I receive to read and review but spent quite a bit on books I purchase as well. I like to buy books i really enjoy for others because I like to give back to the book economy 😀

  35. Good post Sheila – I think you and I have been at it about the same time? I started July 2009 although I had been visiting blogs for a year or so before that. I can understand some bloggers dropping out for other priorities (ie J.Kaye who influenced us alot back then.) It would be nice if those who are strong at least kept a presence even if they had to back off.
    I noted someone recently saying that some bloggers were committed to three posts a day! To me that is overkill. One a day or occasionally two if there is a meme and a book review should be enough. There are so many already to visit.
    There is never any excuse for greed or rudeness. Unfortunately there will always be those with bad manners. I would love to go to BEA and I think your suggestion is good. There would be nothing wrong with requirements for an established blogger and even perhaps some criteria for active blogging – 3 or 4 minimum posts per week, preferably book reviews or related.
    Thanks for being a faithful, involved and “professional” in tone blogger setting a good example for others!

  36. You are one of the bloggers I cherish, though I know we will probably never ever meet in person I consider you a friend. Your posts make me smile, think, contemplate, and sometimes cry. I wouldn’t know how to start my week without my stop here and hopping around to visit all my online friends.

    I will never be at the BEA but behavior you describe upsets me. Every time I receive a book in the mail it is like Christmas, a gift has arrived and should never be taken for granted. Attending a blogger convention is about so much more than how many books you take home. It is about the personal interaction, sharing of ideas and getting to know each other. I hate that my physical limitations keep me from it but reading the posts you and other bloggers post is enough for me to get the blogger feeling. I hope the bad ones you mention are few and far between.

    I love blogging and books and like everything in the world the process in always evolving and we just need to roll with the punches and keep up the best that we can. We can lead by example and hopefully the greedy blogger will evolve or move along.

  37. Oh Sheila, you always post when I need you to post about something I’m thinking about myself. I’ve been losing touch a bit with the community, yet still blogging. I saved myself from fizzling out by joining up with my friend Kate on a blog that really gave us a fresh breath of air.

    And we tend to keep out of the drama. Sure, we read it, we talk about it and then it’s done. I feel like there’s a bit of love missing. Bloggers are there to yack though, whether its about books or drama, so it is always bound to happen.

    I’m glad I didn’t go to BEA, I heard the horror stories. Yet it did remind me of ALA a bit. I felt guilty with all I got, but I still can’t see how rude people can get, even when I saw it first hand. I think book bloggers sometimes have gotten a little too much confidence in how important they are and their heads blow up like hot air balloons and suddenly there is no room for rational thought.

    I think also, because our community is so young, they’ve yet to reach the idea of being proper (in olden lady terms). Not all of us can be old souls and I know that it takes a while to get out of selfish mode when you’re young. And it’s also easy to hide behind a screen and say whatever you like at times. Thanks for sharing Sheila! Don’t go anywhere yet lady and keep doing what you love.

    1. Thank you Kristen! I think it is a great idea to shake things up and morph it work for each of us 🙂

      I have never been to any of the book events other than BEA so I have nothing to compare it to. There was a lot of good to BEA too… I met some wonderful bloggers, authors and publishers… and that far outweighed the negative.

  38. I’ve been blogging a little less than a year. Yet I try to be very consistent with my posts. I do the memes. Sometimes I do other stuff, but I always try to be honest in my reviews. Being that last year was my first year at BEA, it was quite a different experience for me. If I didn’t get a book, I moved on because there were tons of books there. I think that there were some things about that I heard, but I didn’t see it. I try to stay away from negative things. The other thing that I notice is now that I’ve tried to slow down a little bit. Can’t do everything, but I try not to or I’ll burn out. I started doing this for fun. Also people don’t understand how much time bloggers put in their blogs.

    1. It does take a lot of time doesn’t it? I agree we do have to find what works best for us… if it isn’t fun, and seems to much like a commitment… then we will stop doing it. I still enjoy it so much 😀

  39. Granted, I didn’t exactly come in at the beginning of bookblogging, but I have been doing this for a little over two years now, and the biggest thing I’ve noticed changing is just how popular bookblogging is becoming. And not even in the way where more people are realizing that others may be interested in their opinions. I’m referring to the increase on blogs that have reviews that seem to consist of little more than, “Yay, [character] is soooooo hot!” That isn’t a review. That’s barely even commentary. Sometimes it seems like these people hear they can get free books for posting on a blog, and then think no further.

    I’ve seen people come and go, I’ve seen blogger who barely post but who have an outrageous readership where bloggers with good and frequent content have very little, and I’ve seen an increase in the number of people who like to freak out because they didn’t get books or aren’t getting as many as they want. I confess to some envy over those who gets books that I’m hankering after, but I surely don’t act as though free books are my right! They’re a privilege, and I never forget it.

    1. Fantastic thoughts here! I see those posts too of not a review and those I feel will not last. I too covet others books but put them on a wish list and pick them up when I can 🙂 Many of the books i would not even know about if not for some of the great bloggers I read. 😀

  40. Wow, many comments… didn’t read those all though. I’m a book blogger since 2007 but I noticed that life comes in between a lot of the times. I purely write about the books I read for a hobby, nothing professional. I buy my own books just because I love reading. But life was complicated and I simply didn’t have the time to read nor blog much. I even read books without blogging about it because I didn’t have the energy. But… for 2012 I’m full of reading and writing plans so I’m happy about that! Enjoy the reading!

  41. I consider myself a book blogger, but I am a slow reader so I can’t review as many books as I would like. I haven’t really noticed much of the negative atmosphere, only for the last past days because some bloggers post about it. But I am not in deep enough to really feel the negative sides, I guess. And that is fine by me, because I do this for fun. Sure that I get a free book every once in a while, is really nice! But it is a gift, and I am grateful for each of them. Of course I do not always accept, but I am grateful that I am considered to be enough of a book blogger that I get offers 🙂

  42. I can’t say I know a lot about the book blogging world, I tend to hide in my little cave and ignore everything else but I have noticed that hideously selfish rudeness EVERYWHERE. I see it driving on the roads where drivers act as if the roads belong to them and all others must get out of the way, I see it in stores where people try to get everything for free because they feel they deserve it and I see it at work where the golden rule has become ‘every man for himself’. It makes me cringe for the future of the human race.

  43. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments to this yet – will tomorrow. But I think in general there’s a feeling of “gimme”, of instant gratification needed, and a general loss of consideration. Not with everyone, but the rude and selfish people are sometimes so loud about it that the people who are grateful for what they have and are able to get kind of get lost of the noise and blowups. But look at the examples the people of today have. The most popular shows seem to be the reality shows where many participants totally lose it and are guiltly of pretty shameful behaviour. And it’s rewarded with more air time, because it sells.

    The world has a big challenge nowadays raising polite children into polite adults.

    All we can do is continue to try to show a good example where ever we are, especially when there’s children around. Sometimes I forget myself, how much the kids pay attention to our behaviour. I remember when my granddaughter is playing and her dolls say “damnit, or shit” – oops! And my daughter puts a huge blame on my mouth, yet forgets how much she her self says some of the swear words. LOL – at least I try to remember to tell people thanks, though I’m not so good at the please thing.

    I noticed also there’s a lot of flaming going on in some blogs – it’s energy consuming. Boy – if all that energy was put to good projects, wow we’d be in better shape, right? Maybe.

    Well, I’m off to bed, since I’ve been having a hard time sleeping and need to try harder to sleep at a half way decent hour. four a.m., now.
    Hang in there, and just continue to be you – you’r probably one of the old guard now, since the world flies by with short attention spans, you’re might now be considered one of the most experienced at blogging and are now being an inspiration to other new bloggers. 🙂

    1. Thank you for some great words here Mardel! I think there can be a great inspirational group of book bloggers still – and I can think of many who commented here as part of that “next generation”.

  44. Honestly, for me, I am still talking about and loving books, but differently. I don’t consider myself a “traditional” book blogger anymore. For me, book blogging went sour right around the time it became all about marketing. Kudos to those people who treat their blogs as a business, but I really, really dislike that. I like treating my blog more like a way to get to know friends, like a big online book club of sorts, where we all just get together and talk about books we like. Once it became about branding and marketing and constant blog advertising and twitter politics and the rest? Then I wanted to leave. It also doesn’t help that I stopped keeping up my personal blog when I got really into book blogging, and that left me feeling empty. I like where I”m at now. I can talk about books but also other things, and I’m still friends with the bloggers I love best. 🙂

    1. Amanda, I really love how you morphed your blog style and enjoy reading your posts – bookish and otherwise. 😀 I like your thoughts too on us all being like a big book club.

      My Navy son asked me yesterday if anyone ever asks to advertise on my blog and I told him yes, but it has never made sense to do so (odd things like UGG boots…) and it isn’t about that for me.

      You are am inspiration Amanda!

  45. I don’t know what to say to this; I, too, would hate to see the behavior you described at BEA. Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, and that’s understandable (I only posted 9 times in December, and just a bit more in November). I think that the community, however, is what keeps me wanting to do this, even more than the books (I’d be reading like a fiend even without book blogging). Just as in life, you have the good and the bad, and for me, I simply overlook the bad and don’t let myself get caught up in it, because doing that takes away my own joy.

    1. Great way to say that Julie and that is exactly true for me too…. the community makes me want to keep going. I love the book relationships I have built around talking books.

      I feel as though I know so many of you through what you read and even your life.

  46. I did witness that kind of behavior the 2 times I went to BEA (2009 and 2010) and was appalled. I tend to avoid all the blog drama and scandal. I’d rather be talking about books. 🙂

    I have connected with so many wonderful people through book blogging, which makes me want to keep posting. However, the biggest change I’ve seen is the use of social media. I don’t have time to be on those sites all the time. On the rare occasion that I use Twitter, I always feel out of the loop, but I do enjoy Facebook when I have the time.

    I do accept review copies, but I don’t contact publishers to request books. I’ve been accepting fewer and fewer because (1) I have a backlog to work through, (2) I want to read books from my own shelves and from the library and (3) I don’t want blogging to feel like a job. I think I’ve seen a lot of bloggers pulling back on the review copies lately for the same reasons.

    I think it’s important to stay focused on why we blog. For me, it’s to keep track of the books I read and share books with like-minded people. The community is awesome, even if I don’t get on the social media sites like a lot of bloggers do.

  47. Great post! Really! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Things have changed a lot just in the year I’ve been around!

    The unfortunate thing with BEA is that it’s open to anyone who buys a ticket, is it not? The general pubic can come in if they really want to…right? (wasn’t one of the stories last year about how someone made a tween cry or something?) So it would be hard to regulate who gets in – though I don’t disagree that it would be nice to be among people who actually care about blogging for what it is and not for what they can get from it.

    I’ve never been to BEA, but was really appalled by the acting out of some people over a book and the stories I heard. It’s obvious their attitudes and lack of professionalism is what hindered them from getting their hands on it from the publisher directly.

    ARCs are a privileged, relationships with publishing houses are earned and anyone who thinks differently shouldn’t be in this business.

  48. It’s sad but true! The book blogging community has changed; in good ways and bad ways. I didn’t make it to BEA last year so I was unaware that there were bloggers behaving badly. Unfortunately, those are the bloggers who not only give us a bad name, but are clearly blogging for the wrong reason(s). Blogging is not about free books! It’s about networking with people who have a true & genuine love of reading 🙂 That’s the group I’m proud to be a part of!

    The good news is that there are still A LOT of really great bloggers like you, some of whom I get to call friends who will help keep this community strong!

    1. I did hear about some of the bloggers there to get books and sell them… that personally makes my stomach turn. I try to do good with the books that I am offered for review… I give them away in giveaways, offer them to my library, or keep them if they are something I really enjoy.

  49. Wow… seriously thought-provoking!! I started last November, so I barely know which way is up and the idea of a mentor in the book-blogging world makes me drool. Everything takes so much time – it’s all new and I have no idea what is “best” so I just try a little of this and that and eventually figure out how to make a Button, etc, etc. I would hope to be a new, good blogger… but I hardly know what that is! I love, love, love books and it is SO fun to read and share reviews. I did not have a TBR pile when I started, and I’m trying to only get books I can read, although it’s hard to find time. I was so excited finding NetGalley and practically bounced all over the house at the first publisher-contact. Getting a book before it’s published is like near-heaven, not to mention for free! I started blogging specifically to write… to write better, to write what people want to read… and getting Followers is a big priority. I do dances over follower-counts, too. But am I doing it the “best” way?!?! I ask the question of myself a lot, but I have no idea what the answer is. Your thoughts make me feel calmer about not getting ALL of the LATEST out there, which is nice. Phew! But like I said… drooling over the mentoring idea. Maybe one or more of you long-time bloggers could set up something where us Newbies could get some real small-class sort of help! jajajaja You should see me trying to memorize Parajunkie’s Blogging 101 – it’s crazy how helpful a few hints are! And what you said about waiting 4 months – that’s probably a good idea!!

    1. Your enthusiasm makes me smile! I was there once too… I wanted to do it – and I wanted to do it right. If I seen something I liked on another blog and didn’t know how to do it… I asked. I discovered quickly that most book bloggers are amazingly gracious and I do not recall one person who didn’t give me tips when I asked.

      I am not sure if this is still accurate but Kristi from Story Siren had a great list of tips for bloggers too. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me as well. I don’t always have a lot of time to help, but will offer what I can 😀

  50. Interesting discussion. I have not been to BEA so I really don’t know much about the bad behavior. And I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter. But I do see the growth in the number of book blogs, blogging in general, and the trend towards marketing. And whenever there is growth there is change, evolution, and adaptation. Those who enjoy it and find it rewarding will stay. Others will come and go. It’s a natural progression.

    One change that I do find annoying is the endless self-promotion in contests where there are 25 ways to get an entry. Of course I realize I don’t have to read them or enter them, just saying I notice the amount of them seems to be growing. Last week I saw one that required a ‘Like’ on their AmazonVine review for an additional entry. Isn’t that taking it a bit too far? And gaming the amazon system? (And Rafflecopter is just annoying. Period.)

  51. Oh, wow, Sheila…I haven’t seen any of this Book Bloggers Behaving Badly stuff myself, but I agree that the behaviors you described are not at all appropriate. And I can see by the depth and volume of comments here that you have touched a nerve!

    You are certainly one of the most positive influences in our book blogging world, Sheila…so thank you for that! I agree it would be wonderful to meet you and some of the other bloggers in person and hope I have that opportunity some day. I have met some of my fellow chronic illness bloggers in person, and it is always a thrill!

    I think it’s great that you started this discussion – hopefully, it will bring some positive changes.


    1. I am impressed with the comments here Sue – not only what people have seen, but how they choose to respond positively. It is very heartening to see the community say we choose to be the difference. 😀

  52. Really enjoyed this topic (and you can probably tell) and the comments. It’s nice to see so many people chime in and voice their support for you and each other!!!

  53. You’ve obviously touched a nerve with people! I tend to stick to reviewing books, doing a couple memes and sometimes getting review copies, but not often. I think this has helped me stay out of the craziness that you’re writing about.

  54. I’n new to book blogging, only about 6 months but I see more and more pages than do nothing but contest and more and more promotions and it seeems to be all about the freebies. How sad! As for me, I blog when I want to and when it is fun, if it is not fun, why do it? I’m not into twitter but I do havea facebook page for my blog.

  55. Shelia I agree there has been a change this past year (2011) in the bloggy world. It really hit home with me when I heard about all the bad behaviour happening at BEA. Sadly some bloggers have this mentality of deserving all the freebies and its owed to them and dont’ stop to realize that their behaviour effects us all. I noticed this at the 2010 BEA of certain bloggers rushing to grab anything and everything. Present company excluded of course 🙂

    I noticed on my blog roll some of my favorite bloggers just disappearing. Thankfully you and a few others I like and got to meet are still blogging. Shelia you might not know this but you making blogging fun. You are an amazing person who takes the time out of her busy schedule to answer replies etc.

  56. Book blogging has definitely changed wildly since I started my humble book blog more than 4 years ago. 4 years, jeez, what a blogging geezer I’ve become!

    What you said about being able to list the “blogging gurus” made me think. I can think of a few blogging gurus and the list that I come up with now is very different from what it once was, not so much in terms of who it is composed of, but more what they stand for. Back in the day, the blogging gurus you knew were the people who were dedicated to the community, to building it up, uniting it, being passionate about reading for the sake of reading and their blogging stemmed from that passion. Maybe they inspired you to start a book blog of your own, and often they would be pleased to encourage and mentor you as you stumbled into book bloggerdom. It seems like now, the bloggers that immediately come to mind when I envision this elusive concept of the “blogging guru” seem much more market oriented dedicated not just to loving books but to selling them. They have the newest and the most exciting ARCs, often whether they pursue them or not. They are savvy movers and shakers who can use things like Twitter to market themselves and their (often excellent) ideas. It’s not that they’re not friendly and their blogs aren’t great reading, they just have different talents and different priorities than the book blogging gurus of old, and I think that reflects the changes in a lot of the book blogosphere as it has grown and changed in its focus.

    Often I feel like book blogging now is a race to see who can keep abreast of social media trends, who can read the fastest and review the most, who can keep up with the latest hot-button issue, who can cook up the dynamite feature or meme that sets them apart from the masses. I often miss the slower pace, the closer-knit community, and the softer, cuddlier blog gurus of old, but you know what? It’s definitely not all bad! The “new book blogosphere” has definitely come with some perks, so I’m content to continue plugging away in my little corner of the blogopshere. I have been privileged to meet countless great blogging friends at BEA and BBC who take pride in creating a *good* name for bloggers, and I sincerely hope those bloggers will not be put off by the bad behaving bloggers and abandon going to BEA leaving the greedy “gimmes” to run blogging’s reputation through the mud. Honestly, anytime I get a great ARC in the mail, I don’t feel entitled, I feel as excited as the very first time, and never fail to be amazed that I have a place (however small) among a community of book bloggers who have managed to carve out a place for themselves through sheer enthusiasm for reading (however it happens to be manifested) that not only draws publishers’ attention but has become a powerful force in how books are marketed in this day and age.

    It’s been an interesting ride, and I’m curious to see what book blogging looks like once its growing pains are through, if they ever are. 😉

    1. Wonderful thoughts Megan. It sounds like you and I are a lot alike! While you have more book blogging under your belt, I too liked the community aspect of book blogging, that is what tied me to it to begin with. I hope the great tings like Blogiesta (which I rave about still today!) do not go to the wayside…. I know it takes dedicated book bloggers to make a community but I would gladly stand in line to be one of those who help to continue the great ways!

  57. You wre one of the first one there for me when I started doing this in 2009, so for that I’ll always be grateful.

    To be honest, I almost hung up my hat a few times last year. Not because I dont’ love doing this, but life seemed to be getting in the way more last year than it had in the past. I felt like I had a second full time job, just one that didn’t pay as well. 🙂

    After really thinking about it for a while, I decided I enjoyed doing this way too much to stop. I’m not sure I ever will, but we will see.

    I’ve never been a big worrier about how many followers I have or how many hits/comments a certain post has. I think there are for more many things to worry about than that. I’m not a big twitterer anymore, though I do pop in occasionaly so I never seem to find these scuffles while they are happening. It does sadden me when I hear about it though.

    I don’t know if I’m in the norm on this or not, but I have never asked for a review copy for a book. I guess the idea really never entered my mind, but now that it has, I’m pretty positive it won’t be something I start doing anytime soon. Even from publishers/publicists that I have a relationship with, I’ll wait to see if they have something they think I would be interested in. This year I’m only going to accept fewer books than in years past. I want to concentrate on reading books I would have read anyway.

    1. It is somewhat important that reviewers seek out books THAT THEY ACTUALLY WANT and request review copies. As an author, I can tell you that several bloggers have said they prefer that authors not offer them copies cold–and in fact they ignore such invitations. So many of us very rarely offer up copies or only do so through promotion channels where bloggers sign up for copies.

      It’s nice to get a polite request. Whether you’re a publisher OR an author, its very nice to get the request that includes the venues where you publish the review (I’ve had requests from people who sign their name–no blog, no amazon review moniker…so you can’t see any review history or even know if the person has ever done a review.)

      So please do include your blog address, if you’re on Goodreads, twitter, shelfari, or wherever, include that as well. That lets us see that you’re active and seriously interested Just let the author or publisher know you’re enthused about the book, maybe where you came across it, and provide enough information that we can visit a site or past reviews to see if we think the book is a good fit (I’ve had a blogger of children’s books request Tracking Magic by mistake–it does have illustrations, but it’s not a children’s book. YA to adult, but they’d be very disappointed if they wanted a children’s book!)

      Most authors do not expect you to review every book you get, and in fact, I always try to let reviewers know that if the book just isn’t for them, it’s okay to not finish it. Reviews are always optional and should not be forced!

      If you don’t want to request books, that’s okay too, but do have a “review policy” on your site somewhere that lets authors and publishers know if it is okay to send an email asking if you want a book. It’s also nice if you list your FAVORITE genres because of course, we don’t send out thousands of copies so we do pick and choose sites that best fit a particular book.

      Most authors just want to be a part of the reading community. The more information we all have about each other, the easier it is. The more we all participate, the better it is for everyone!!!

      Thanks for listening to my ramble!

  58. Wow. What a lot of good comments. I think J. Kaye (yes, I still miss her) and Amy have been good community-builders, and that’s what I like about book blogging, the conversations.

    I don’t like the encroaching “professionalism” of book blogging, and as someone else already said, the tendency to review all new books because you’re only reviewing books someone sends you for free.

  59. dude so many coments ^-^
    i’m a bookblogger 4 months now
    i don]t know if i would say established but doing great
    int so no 2 BEA
    /never been and it is ooh so pricey maybe it the future
    have not noticed that jet but some authors and bloggers have become mean and bitchy

  60. I am going to have to set aside some time to read the rest of these comments here! I have seen some change over time, but I have so far avoided getting wrapped up in the drama (which sadly is one of those things that pops up every now and then regardless of community – it’s just human nature I think).

    It’s been fun seeing trends change and morph – from blogging awards being passed around, memes added subtracted and tweaked, reading challenges up the wazoo, book tours, and many people realizing (some of us again and again because we take a while to learn) that free books are fabulous, but sometimes accepting too many means a lot of stress.

    I still haven’t been to BEA, but I’m horrified that book bloggers would act that way (or anyone else for that matter) – it’s so childish!

    I have noticed an explosion in paranormal blogs over the past year or two, which has been at the edge of my radar because I don’t read paranormal books.

    Personally the biggest changes I’ve made is to prioritize reading for me and not to schedule my life around blogging. I was pretty obsessed that first year or so.

  61. Well, you certainly hit a hot button with this one! It took me a few minutes to scroll down through all the comments. I personally haven’t noticed too many changes but I’ve heard lots of rumblings about these very same issues. Part of the reason is that I’ve not participated in a lot of events like BEA and I don’t Twitter really. I do know that people leave blogging on a fairly regular basis, which I totally understand. To last at this, you have to truly love what you are writing about and realize what amount of time it takes. I know I’ve cut down on what I try to do and how much visiting I can do and I’ve given up on trying to be a big huge blog that gets tons of readers. As with all communities, things change and evolve and so it is with book blogging. I still think you can find a good little pocket of like-minded people whose blogs you enjoy reading and that is all I really ask for.

  62. I’m meandering over your post this morning 😉

    But in all seriousness, I started my blog around the same time as you (July 2009) and I absolutely agree with how much it’s changed and how much I miss old book blogging. It’s dorky but, I remember when talking about ARCs and your contact was verboten, because people didn’t want to be seen as being grabby. Now it’s like a free for all. I hate logging on to twitter and seeing people who every single day have to post their pretty packages or loud complaints about not getting packages. I’ve tried to counteract this by tweeting about my library hauls. It’s weird, when I first started blogging I only wrote about my library books and books I purchased. Then for a while in the middle, strictly wrote about review books, but I’m now coming full circle and writing and reading more library and purchased books again.

    I will also admit to monetizing — but those ads do help pay my hosting fees, shipping, and provide a few extra dollars on other bills.

    I will also admit to getting involved in the drama. No sense in me pretending like I don’t because I do.

    Also, it made me sort of sad this year when I scrolled through my google reader and not every blog was involved in Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It seemed like only 1/3 were, and it makes me sad that the community isn’t quite so unified as it was when I began blogging. Or when there is the Dewey Readathon and it seems like not many people I know are participating. I just miss that feeling where it seemed like everyone was involved in something good.

    And BEA 2011, yeah, lots of bad. I ended up cutting out early on Thursday because it was a little TOO grabby for me and hanging out at that park that’s behind the Javits with the bench by the river. Also left for several hours in the middle on Wednesday, because there was a cocktail panel but also because it was crazy. I don’t know, I just feel like it’s not worth getting upset over not getting a book when you can just buy it in a few months or go to the best place on earth — THE LIBRARY.

    FINALLY, I just want you to know that you are a pillar of the community. You are awesome Sheila and cultivate a wonderful atmosphere. I’ve learned a lot from both you and J. Kaye. Like, when I moved over to wordpress, I noticed that YOU, yes YOU Sheila, responded to all of your comments and I would often come back to your blog as well as a few others who respond after leaving comments just to read the response. I liked knowing that someone was listening. So, yes, YOU have taught me about cultivating community on a blog and I love that. Thank you for being you.

    1. Thank you April… I haven’t logged on all day due to craziness (I will explain in the morning…) and you are the first comment I read. After a busy day of working 10 hours and then volunteering another three… you made me smile. 🙂

      Thank you, I owe the comment thing to J Kaye… I loved that she held “conversations” on her blog… and I love it too.

      Seriously, you made my night April. Thank you.

  63. I think that I stay on the cusp of book blogging and that’s probably because my participation is rather random. I always have good intentions to participate in memes but that ends up being a big Fail. I do participate in Dewey’s readathon, but now I’ve noticed there’s almost a readathon every week (I exaggerate) and it makes me sad because the whole point of Dewey’s was the ANTICIPATION. I mean, what’s the point if Christmas happened every month?

    I don’t know much about the drama that has gone around these parts, but like I said, I think it’s because I stay on the peripheral. I started blogging because I could never remember what I read and I missed literary discourse from college. It’s helped me remember, but I’m SO BAD at participating in the discourse of it all.

    As far as the BEA behavior. Man, if I was there, I think I’d immediately revert to my teacher voice out of habit and put them in time out. 🙂

    1. Christina, I started blogging for the same reason! I agree with you on the read a thons… I love the Deweys one, I would love to do more.. but really… I dont have the time. The Dewey one I plan for and set the date aside.

  64. I’m new to your blog today, sent over here via April above. I haven’t noticed a difference, but that’s largely because I’m part it—I have definitely been posting much less often and haven’t been reading posts of blogs I follow, mostly because the volume kind of scares me and because I’m planning a wedding, working part-time, and am in school part-time. It sucks and I wish I could be more involved, but when I have a free moment I find it hard to sit down and write or read through my Google reader. But at the end of the day, I still feel like a blogger and my blog continues to limp along, despite the infrequent posting.

    I think I also feel less a part of the community because I am unable to participate in events; BEA was too much money for me to spend, and I can’t give up an entire day to devote to reading for readathons, much as I’d like to. Because I’ve met only a few bloggers in real life, I feel very much left out a lot of the time, making me less invested than others.

  65. Hi Sheila, I definitely know what you are talking about. I’ve been a book blogger since Jan 2007 and it seemed like such a small community at that time. It’s a huge area of the blogosphere now. I had a bout of blogging ennui before Christmas. It feels sometimes like all my old blogging buddies have disappeared.

    When people started going to BEA, it was so exciting. I was a bit jealous. Now I’m not sure I’d want to go. It sounds a little nuts. I’d still love to meet book bloggers but maybe not in that venue. The free books don’t interest me that much any more.

    1. I love the community and BEA does provide an interesting level to that. I still think BEA is very worthy to attend – and I plan to as long as I can. We need the good book bloggers to outweigh those who are not so much 😀

  66. I can speak from an author’s perspective a bit – -that I, too, have experienced the “gimme gimme” attitude among some people — and my publicist at SImon & Schuster has told me some crazy stories — but overall, people have been very professional and kind — and often very, very fun. (I love trading barbs on twitter and have met some great Words With Friends opponents via the blogger world.) I try to do my part by offering guest blog content and freebies when I can — reading posts and trying to keep up — and then by not being too pushy myself. It’s hard to know what people’s roles are for everyone, I think.

    But — it’s like The Wild West — think of the early days of newspapers, and how ethics varied . . . it’s still evolving as a medium, and all the things you are doing to gather and support and provide guidelines for each other, at BEA and other places is a very good thing.

  67. I’ve enjoyed this post and reading all the comments. I’ve been book blogging for 9 months now, so I’m still fairly new.

    It’s a lot of hard work, harder then I first imagined actually, but I do love it. I have heard about a lot of the blow ups and have tried to stay well clear.

    I buy/swap a lot of books and mostly review them as well as the odd ones from the library (my local one is small and sadly, badly stocked). I want to encourage more discussion on my blog and share my love of reading. It can often seem that there are so many blogs, that you don’t stand out much. Some posts will have comments, others won’t 🙂

    So far I have made a few new friends, and quite a few people have been welcoming or happy to reply to a tweet. But I’ve also found that there are a lot of bloggers who seem less inclined to be as welcoming. I’ve been sent a few ARCS (by the same publisher) because an author asked me to review her book which I was happy to do and I made a contact with her agent that way. But I’ve never requested an ARC, other than through NetGalley. I do find it slightly overwhelming sometimes when you see so many bloggers constantly getting ARCS, meeting publishers, going to events etc. It can be a bit disheartening, not because you’re not getting loads of free books, but because in some ways I don’t really feel a part of the book blog community.

    This turned to a long comment sorry! But its so nice to hear from bloggers like yourself, who are more interesting in sharing a love of reading and building friendships rather than getting your hands on the hottest new books.

    1. Thanks for commenting Amy and I can say, Hang in there! When I first started it wasn’t about ARC’s at all – I was reviewing my own books… once I created a base, the authors and publishing companies started contacting me.

      I created a separate email for book conversations and love that. Once you build up, you will make connections… the book blogging community has a lot of good in it and you can see a lot of those great bloggers right here in this post 🙂

  68. Hi Sheila!

    I started book blogging in April 2008 and it’s amazing how much the blogosphere and my own life have evolved since then. Back then it felt like you knew everyone because the circle was so small, and pubs were just starting to catch on that bloggers could be useful for publicity. Now, I see some some pubs tiring of the stress of dealing with bloggers and it makes me sad too.

    1. Thanks for commenting Lenore. You have been around this longer than me. I wonder if publishers need to set a criteria for the bloggers they work with… that may make more work for them in the start – but in the long run I think maybe they would have productive bloggers who actually review the books.

  69. I totally agree with this. I am pretty new, but very dedicated, and I sometimes feel that the bloggers who behave badly (let’s face it, there are some) make it harder for those of us who really just want to spread the word about books. The bragging about ARCs and the nasty reviews make it so hard for everyone else to be taken seriously. The recent drama just makes me so sad. It won’t keep me from blogging, but there are authors and bloggers that I think less of because of it. It’s a shame, and I’m sorry to hear about the behavior at BEA last year. I’m going to ALA Midwinter next week and I wonder if any of this will affect the blogger/publisher relationship. I hope not.

  70. Hi Sheila: I have been following this conversation from the original posting and thought I would add my thoughts. First, I admire and respect you for the person you are and for the blog you have created and have maintained. I had no clue about all this drama that everyone is talking about. One, I hardly twitter unless if it’s for an announcement of an author that is a guest on my blog and I have never been to a BEA, which I wish I could attend but due to physical limitations I know it will never be a possibility. Not for the freebies but to meet other bloggers. Back to the drama and my opinion, maybe I shouldn’t comment because I don’t know what it is about, but how sad. Drama over books? Everyone has problems in everyday life. Books, reading and discussion about books is a positive. Meeting new people is a positive. Book blogging, at least for me, is one big book club, how does one find drama from that? So sad!! And as far as changes, I agree. I have been blogging 2 years now and having as much fun today as I did when I first started. Am still honored when asked to read and review a book . But am amazed at how many, hundreds, of new blogs there are now, which appear to be of a specific genre. Sometimes change is good but behavior should never always be appropriate.

    1. Cheryl, honestly I dont know the details of the Twitter stuff either… I heard it all second hand through bloggers I trust who have actually stepped away from Twitter due to this drama. I am not on it enough to see it – I pop in occasionally, like you, to touch base and connect with anyone who may have connected with me.

      Keep on keeping on – thats what we can do 😀

  71. I don’t know Sheila, some of the most demanding bloggers and the ones who can sometimes put up the biggest fits seem to be ones who are more established sometimes… maybe we’re teaching newbies bad lessons in that regard 😉 lol

    I think the changes are huge, but also really interesting. People come and go which is really sad, but it’s the community that I love and I can only hope that people stick around more. Darn life, clearly blogging is more important right? I, too, wish I’d found it much earlier.

    1. LOL Amy – yes, yes, and yes… 😀 I too hope that people stick and that we continue on… I too wish I had been here in the beginning… I think it would have been incredible to see it explode the way it has.

  72. Sheila, I’ve noticed the changes in the blogisphere too. Some of the changes are great like publishers sending ARCs to bloggers but others are horrible like the bad behavior some bloggers have toward publishers and each other. The drama of twitter is something I try to avoid by un-following people and even some publishers. I’ve noticed that my favorite bloggers are mostly people who don’t receive a lot of ARCs to start with.

  73. I’ll start with the confession that I didn’t read through all the comments (172! wow!), but I wanted to share my thoughts anyhow, especially since I feel like I haven’t been book blogging as much as I used to. But that’s mostly because I haven’t been reading as much (you know, life gets in the way), and I really do like to post mostly reviews and not so many memes. That’s my reason, at least. I also feel like I’m not interested in reading as many book blogs because they all tend to focus on the same books. Maybe that means I should just delete all my feeds and start anew. Because honestly, I have a handful of blogs that I still enjoy reading regularly for their unique and original content (read: they review books that the masses don’t), and the rest, I just skim through the titles of the posts and move on. This one caught my eye because I agree that the book blogging world has changed tremendously, and I thought I should say so. 🙂

    1. Thanks Natalie, I appreciate your thoughts here. Reading habits do change and yeah… life (seasons) does too. I try to mix up my book reviews between the new and “MUST READ!” and the older titles that I find at my library or at books sales that draw my attention as well.

  74. This post is definitely being included in my weekly link round-up– due not only to your eloquence on the subject, but also the eloquence of so many of those who’ve commented. This has really made me think of all the changes there’ve been since I started my own blog in 2008.

    I love what I do, and I’m not going to stop– primarily because I have my own island of bliss and (partial) ignorance. I have Twitter running in the background when I’m on the computer because I like all the tidbits I can glean. However, I am completely unaware of any of the drama in our community… probably because I’ve slowly stopped following each drama queen as she or he has been discovered. Life’s too short!

    1. Awesome points Cathy – I too love doing this and am staying where I am doing it my way without the extra “whatevers”… living on planet Book Journey.
      It’s nice here… and we talk about books. 😛

  75. This post and comments were eye-openers for me; I wasn’t aware of these changes and competition in the blogosphere. It does seem has if the number of book bloggers has expanded exponentially over the past year. It was always impossible to keep up even with just your favorite blogs, but now it’s impossible to even try.
    I know from experience how easy it is to accept more ARCs than you can read and review before the pub date of the book, but I don’t feel entitled to getting ARCs. I’ve never been to BEA, but we do get free books at library conferences sometimes, and I try not to be greedy. I’ve been enjoying following your blog (as much as possible!)

    1. Thank you Laurie – for the follow and the comment. 😀 Its hard to tell if there is continuous growth any more as like you said… its too big… I discover new blogs all the time.

      I hope the ones that are just doing it for BWB (Books with Benefits) will soon get bored and drop off. I hate to think of anyone taking advantage of the wonderful publishers and authors we work with continuously.

  76. I am not a blogger but a blog reader. I had no idea that someone would bite someone in order to get a book and that a book was grabbed out of your hands!!!

    I quit blogs from time to time, mostly because I realize that I don’t like the genre of books that they stick to. But last year, I quit one because the blogger kept begging for money to go to the BET. I posted comments that I rarely travel because I can’t afford it. She just kept on asking for money everytime she posted.

    I will never go to the BEA but I think it should be an opportunity to meet with and have fun with other bloggers, to learn about the exciting new books coming about and have some sense of community with the other bloggers.

    1. Oh my…. sounds like you had an experience! Never say never Carol…. I won my trip the first year I went and I know last year of at least one blogger/author who gave a trip to BEA away…. I can tell you first hand it is possible and yes. it is a wonderful way to meet other book lovers.

  77. Oh my goodness, Sheila…I’m not sure if you’re ahead of the curve, or if this post launched a thousand debates, but the last week has seen a lot of buzz surrounding book bloggers – Maggie Stiefvater’s post, Beth Kephart’s post, the William Morrow e-mail heard ’round the blogosphere – It’s insanity out there. Me? I’m staying on my little island of bliss. It’s warmer here.

    That being said, I sent you a DM in Twitter (even though I’m avoiding Twitter at the moment) re: BEA. Look forward to hearing back from you!

    1. Looks like I have some posts to check out Alison! I don;t know what happened when I posted this but I am loving the discussion…. I may have hit a nerve… LOL

      OOH – A BEA twitter? Checking it out *runs and falls on way to Twitter* 😛

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