Nyx Book Reviews

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Do Reviews Still Get Read?

Ah, reviews. The age-old controversy amongst bloggers. Do book reviews make a book blogger? Do book reviews make a blogger a reviewer? Are book bloggers critics, or are they readers? What does a good review make? All of these questions concerning reviews are interesting ones, but ones that will be left for another day. Today I’m focussing on reviews themselves – do they get read? Are book reviews still relevant in the blogosphere today?

Reviews go unread

A month ago, Parajunkee posted about how no one reads her reviews. People visit her blog for features, discussions, and events, but her reviews go unread. Most of the commenters share their experiences with a lack of interest in book reviews. The only reviews that seem to get any attention are the rage-filled ones – you all know the one, with endless snark and ranting. People notice dips in page views on days they post reviews. Some commenters even share that this is the reason they have stopped writing reviews completely. Why write something no one is going to read?

book review

Reasons for the unpopularity of reviews

Now, I’m not an expert on this subject. Everything I know about blogging and the blogosphere comes from personal experience which is hardly generalisable. However, I can imagine several reasons why reviews are less popular than other posts:

  • We already have such long TBRs, we hardly need to add to it
  • Some people only read reviews of books they have already read with fear of being spoiled
  • Reviews can be long and wordy and require more concentration to read than other posts that are easily skimmable
  • People feel guilty commenting on reviews – “Great review!” isn’t socially accepted, but sometimes you just don’t have more to say than that
  • Reviews tend to be more rigid and descriptive than other posts; some might find them *gasps* boring
  • Certain ARCs are everywhere; reading a review of the same book over and over just isn’t appealing
  • Like Tolstoy and his families, good reviews tend to be similar while bad reviews have endless diversity, and bad reviews will therefore be read more often
  • Sadly(?) though, most of us read books we enjoy, resulting in an overwhelming load of generally positive reviews
  • Reviews don’t give you free stuff to comment
What does this mean for book blogging?

When I started blogging, a few memes existed (like Follow Friday, In My Mailbox, and Teaser Tuesday). On non-meme days, blogs posted reviews. Writing reviews was part of being a book blogger. As the blogging world moved towards a more graphic-based concept rather than a word-based concept, many book bloggers started questioning the need of reviews. You can easily have a book blog, in which you talk about books, without having to do these structured posts on individual books with ratings and all the works. Blogs now have to be pleasing to the eye; an evidence for this is how many bloggers mention an appealing design as a reason to follow a blog, or to visit a blog again.

Left out of this movement are bloggers like me – bloggers who started their blog as an Goodreads-offspring. Goodreads is decidedly review-based, although even here graphics in the form of GIFs have made an appearance. Are we out-dated? I personally love reading reviews. Not only do they give me an insight in a book I might or might not have read, but it also gives me a glimpse of the reading life of the reviewer. Isn’t the first thing a book lover asks another book lover “have you read book X? what did you think?!”. I want to know what other people think of books. Other posts are fabulous too, but I want to know your opinion on books we have in common.

I don’t feel like reviews make a book blogger, or that every blog should post reviews. However, I think the blogosphere would be a sad place when no one would review books any more.

What do you think? Do you still read or write reviews?

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  • http://www.nosegraze.com/ Ashley Evans

    I very rarely read reviews anymore, which is why I rarely post them.

    I think I decided that everyone is different. We all have different experiences and opinions. So I’d rather decide for myself if I want to read a book or not, rather than rely on someone else’s experience.

    But it’s important that you do what you want to do with your blog. Don’t listen to what other people seem to want. Blogging is something you should do for yourself, otherwise you’ll get sick of it quickly!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Definitely! I just happen to be interested in why people do like reviews or why others don’t. You make an interesting point about not relying on someone else’s experience

  • http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/ Jamie

    In the past almost 5 years I’ve noticed reviews getting less views and less comments on my blog. I think that it’s a lot of the things you mentioned — I think before there was a lot of discovering that went on with book reviews but now mostly every KNOWS all the upcoming books. Plus the spoiler issue. Plus the saturation of reviews that all seem to be reading the same book because ARCs are so much more prevalent than back then esp with Netgalley. Back in the day I felt like we were all reading VERY diversely. Sure, we read new reviews but I remember discovering a lot of the newer books bc I wasn’t seeing the ARCs everywhere and I wasn’t creeping catalogs. I know, if I’m being honest, I don’t read AS many reviews anymore because I’m pretty set on what I want to read and when I’m unsure I’ll then go to Goodreads and get a feel for what people I trust think and read reviews there.

    I think everyone will make their own decision as to how to proceed as book blogging has evolved from book reviews being THE staple thing (I mean I feel like that’s the majority of what people posted back then). I know I’ll always have some sort of book talk that talks about what I’ve read but in the past year or so I’ve really let myself change up how I do it — sometimes I do a Beyond the Pages and talk about it in a more personal way which has been effective in getting people excited about different books and also letting myself do more frequent mini reviews and just other ways to feature stuff. The good thing is that there will always be people who value each thing..so hopefully as things keep evolving…people who have reviews as a staple will flock to each other and everyone can find blogs that meet their needs!

    It’s so fascinating to see how it’s all evolved!!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      So true, I really feel like we did use to read more diversely! Ever since publishers started to spread ARCs, everyone started to read ARCs instead of the cool books they found in a recess in the library/book store.

      I really like Goodreads too as a tool to find out whether or not to read a book. It’s just so convenient to have all the reviews of your friends in one place (:

      There are so many ways to talk about books, and you name a few good ones. I personally really like mini reviews for the books you just don’t have much to say about, while you can still share your (few) thoughts on the book or give a recommendation.

      It all has changed so much! But I really like how, because there are now so many more bloggers, there is always someone’s style which you’ll enjoy. Thanks for stopping by Jamie (:

  • Ula @ Blog of Erised

    I started my blog for reviews, not memes and discussions, but it proved to be hard to get readers unless I participated in TTT and other memes that meant cross-commenting betweenb loggers. So I did that. Then it got so far I had more memes than reviews, and I felt like I’m not a proper book blogger because of that anymore, so I ditched some (also because of lack of time). Now I am not even sure I want to keep blogging at all.
    Books are truly the same all around because we all get a ton of similar ARCs and those super hyped books are suddenly everyhwere. I always skip those reviews, say for HoF recently. Everyone read it, everyone loved it more or less. Why would I read 120 same reviews?! There was a ton of gushing on social media as well, before the book was even out.
    I think it’s all those reasons you posted. I notice my readership goes down when it’s a review day. My top posts are TTT and discussions. It does help when you get RT for a review by author or publisher – happened to me a few times and my visits were through the roof.
    But I think I’ll always regard book reviewing as the ‘proper’ book blogging, maybe because I went into it that way. I used to read a lot of reviews because I am pretty picky with books and after I see a bunch of bad reviews, I ditch the book from my TBR. So back when I was starting, 90 % of books were new to me, so I added most of them, It did lose the appeal now that I am in the ‘now’ more or less book-wise. I still try to focus my blog more on reviews than on memes and discussions. Yeah they can be boring, especially when you love a book, but personally, I prefer them to other posts most of the time.
    Who knows, maybe in the future reviews will be a thing again. The ‘problem’ is we all read all genres, or most. If we all just specialized in just one, maybe blogs would be more diverse. In the end, it’s up to blog owners what they want to publish. If you only care for the daily numbers, than maybe you shouldn’t be a blogger? 🙂

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      I went through the same thing. For the first few month of Nyx Book Reviews, I only posted a review a week… and I had a grand total of five readers. It was near impossible to gain readers, even if I commented on other blogs. After years of struggling I FINALLY found a way of balancing reviews and the sociability of memes. But it took a long time.

      Eesh, so true. And I hate reading hyped books anyway. That’s why I’ve put off reading HoF, because if I absolutely hate it, people might get offended.

      It would be fun if reviews became the shit again. I’d definitely enjoy that. But yeah, if you’re into the numbers, book blogging isn’t the place to be anyway

  • Faye

    It’s very bizarre because I don’t often read reviews (though at the moment, I’m finding it difficult to find the time to read any posts on blogs) but I do often only read reviews of books I’ve already read and just want to know what someone thought. But I always ask people what they think of x book and I really should be getting that information from reading reviews. I do generally love reading them when I have the time! But yes, commenting is always a bit different on reviews.

    On the other hand, I LOVE writing reviews. I love telling people what I loved and hated about books. I love trying to urge people to read this book or to just warn them that it wasn’t right for me and may not be right for them. So I definitely won’t be stopping my reviews anytime soon – even if my blog has less views on those days!

    So yes… very bizarre thoughts from me. This is a fab post for discussion though 🙂

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      I’m so with you on writing reviews, Faye! It’s the most fun part of blogging, for me. Just being able to share your thoughts on a book is awesome. And it’s the focus of my blog, even though that means I will never truly break out as a “big” blog.

      Your thoughts aren’t bizarre at all! I all find it very interesting (: Thanks for sharing!

  • http://thedailyprophecy.blogspot.com/ Mel @thedailyprophecy

    I love to read and write reviews. It’s fun to share my thoughts and it also makes me think about the book. Sometimes I even change my rating after writing a review, because I’m suddenly aware I loved/disliked it much more than I thought.

    I also like to read them to help me figure out if I need to buy a book or not. There are so many books on my wish list, it’s helpful to filter them by looking at my trusted bloggers 🙂

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Yup, I do that too! Although I tend to check my friends’ reviews on Goodreads, instead of searching their blogs. It’s just way easier to see them all over there. I’m there with you, I love writing reviews (:

  • http://honeyimreading.wordpress.com/ ebookclassics

    Great post for starting this discussion! I still love to read reviews and don’t mind spoilers, but I will generally skip reviews of books I’m not interested in or I will skim the review if it’s too long. I still love writing reviews too and there’s probably a 70/30 divide on my blog of reviews/other stuff. I would love to grow my audience, but I realize there are so many bloggers out there for people to visit so they all can’t stop by. Hopefully bloggers keep reviewing books and sharing their love of what interests them.

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Although I love reading reviews, I sometimes skim them too to find the “good” part. Some reviewers spend a lot of time summarising the plot, and I’m usually looking for the reader’s opinion. I don’t know for how long you’ve been blogging, but it’s especially hard for the newer bloggers to find an audience. When you’ve been around for a long time, you tend to find the peoples that are interested in the same books and have the same taste

  • Annette Mills

    I love reading reviews. As a matter of fact, I will quit following a blog that rarely posts reviews. However, here I am commenting on your post, when I’ve just read probably 10 reviews and didn’t comment. I read them in a reader, so the blog owner has no idea I read them. Like you said, sometimes it’s hard to find something to say….but…I read them all. Honestly I do. My blog is heavy with reviews, I don’t get that many hits — fairly consistent though — and I don’t care. That’s not why I blog, so it really doesn’t bother me. I’m not the norm. If you want to increase your readership, don’t do what I do!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      It’s interesting, isn’t it? I sometimes have to force myself to comment on the reviews I read, because I want to spread the love. I’ve found that when you have a review-heavy blog, you kind of plateau at a certain amount of followers. Those are the people that love your style and that enjoy the same books as you do. I’ve never started blogging to get a lot of followers, but as a way to talk about books, and I think my blog does that pretty well, haha

  • Lola R

    Just like you I love reading reviews and I love writing them as well, but I don’t read all reviews on other blogs. I actually did a Lola’s ramblings post once about which reviews I do read. Mostly I read reviews for books I already have read or for books when I am not sure if I want to read them. If I know nothing about the book I probably won’t comment, unless I am commenting back. I always try to say more besides great reviews, because it just feels so lame to say only that. Sometimes it’s hard to comment on reviews, although I have a few techniques I often use when commenting on a review of a book I haven’t read or know nothing about.

    On my blog I do notice the discussion posts get most comments, but there is usually a clear question and everyone can say something about that. So I think in general those are easier to comment on. But my reviews get some comments as well, especially my reviews as part of My To-Be Read meme or when I go on a commenting spree and people comment back, although often I notice they comment back more often on my latest discussion post. Great post!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Commenting on reviews is hard, especially when you haven’t read it. But honestly, I think saying ‘great review’ is perfectly valid. Sometimes that’s just all you have to say 😀

      Discussions, like this post, get most comments on my blog too. It’s just so easy for people to share their opinion. I’ve been considering ways in which I can combine the connection of discussions with the bones of a review… but I haven’t worked that out yet. Thanks for stopping by Lola!

  • Anya E. J.

    I read reviews! Haha, every time I see a post about how dismal views are on review days it makes me sad. I completely rely on reviews to decide what books to read and what books to skip and I only follow blogs if my skim of their latest seven or so posts includes a review of a book that vaguely fits my interests. I also think it is interesting that focus sometimes shifts from “blog what you want to blog” to “blog what gets you the most views and comments”. Didn’t we all start this because we just wanted to write out our thoughts and perhaps discuss them with others? I don’t really care if my reviews get fewer views than my giant giveaway; I enjoy writing my reviews and discussing them with the handful of people that do read and comment on them (usually my friends :D). What it comes down to is that there are lots of different ways to blog and if people really don’t like writing reviews, then they shouldn’t write them. But if we do like writing them, then why not?

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      It makes me sad too! Especially because a lot of bloggers actually put a lot of work in their reviews, because they’re not as easy to write as, say, a giveaway post. I want to support that effort.

      For myself, I just really really like discussing books and sharing my thoughts on them. And I love to read other people’s thoughts. So go reviews! Many bloggers want to do what they like – but being recognised for your effort is enjoyable too. So I completely understand why a lack of comments/views can be discouraging for some

  • http://readingismybreathing.blogspot.cz/ Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing

    I LOVE reading reviews and various opinions about books! And I equally enjoy writing reviews. To share opinion about books is what made me start my blog. Of course, even I started to post meme or two per month, but reviews are still my favorite and most frequent posts I share.
    I hope blogosphere will never be without reviews!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Me too, Lucia! I can at least say for myself that Nyx Book Reviews will never be without reviews. It’s just too much fun to write about books in that way. Thanks for stopping by ^_^

  • http://www.booksandbabyetc.com/ Charlotte @ Books and Baby etc

    I still write them and I definitely still read them. I love reviews and they are the main reason I got into book blogging in the first place. I read reviews for books I’ve read, books I haven’t read, books I HATED, books I loved, books I have no interest in even! Basically I just like to know what’s out there and what people think about them. I would be sad if bloggers moved away from reviewing completely.

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Ha, I love reading reviews for books I hated! Though I usually refrain from commenting then, because that seems a bit weird. I very much enjoy it when I and the reviewer have a completely opposite reaction to a book. It makes it more interesting. Glad to hear there are others that don’t want reviews to disappear either!

  • http://readingwithabc.com/ Elizabeth Rodriguez

    I have been blogging for almost 4 years now and you’re right, the world of book blogging has changed a lot. I now post 2-3 reviews a week and the rest are memes or discussion/personal posts. My reviews are usually long and wordy, I try to use bold lettering and quotes to make it easier on the reader to skim through a review. I’ts the same reason why I don’t like vlogs much, because you can’t “skim”.

    I also try to keep a mix or ARCs, audiobooks and books that have been published for a while. Great books deserve a chance to get reviewed and promoted. Another difference is that blog tours and promotions are more prevalent now, and as others have said, ARCs are everywhere now which is a bit disconcerting to tell the truth.

    Great discussion!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      I’ve experimented with bold letters and other visual clues in my discussion posts, but never in my reviews. It’s a good idea though, for people with a smaller attention span, they can scan and still get an idea of what you think. I’m completely there with you on vlogs. A blog post can easily be scanned in 30 seconds, vlogs can be ramblefests of more than 10 minutes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Elizabeth

  • Andrea Modolo

    I still write reviews, I definitely don’t write as many as I used to but I still enjoy reading them when I get the chance. I actually don’t post memes and just write a few reviews a month. I try to keep a mix of adult and YA, as well as books that everyone is reading but add in a few that seem to be a little less known. I know that not many people read reviews any more but I think it would be sad if there were no more reviews of books, I still rely mainly on bloggers for recommendations of books that I won’t necessarily find on my own.

  • http://www.thenovelhermit.com/ Cee

    Reviews definitely do not make a book blogger. You just have to be talking about books, and BAM, you’re a book blogger! For me, I don’t tend to read reviews because I don’t really want to expect to much, in case the book doesn’t live up to its expectations, and I don’t want to be spoiled (even if it isn’t very spoilery). At the end of the day, the reviews are for me—to remind me what I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about the book, and to share my love or hatred for it. Ha.

    I do still write reviews, but it’s become more “Reasons Why You Should Read It” or “Why This Character is Awesome” with bullet points to be more efficient and clear. I find reviews written that way is more easier for me to follow.

  • nikki

    I love reading reviews, and it follows that I also happen to love writing them. But I think the readership for a review is always going to be very specific. I don’t read every review on every blog I follow, just the ones on books I’ve read, books I want to know more about, or all the ones being written by people who I have confirmed as having very similar taste to me.

  • http://myshelfconfessions.com/ Kat

    I read reviews far more often than I read other blog posts – but if it’s a book that I”m planning on reading soon, I won’t read it, maybe just check out the rating that the blogger gave it to get a feel for whether people with similar tastes like it or not. And I’m more likely to comment on a review of a book that I’ve never heard of and the review makes me want to read it, or a book that I’ve read myself.

    I have days where all I want to do is read reviews – and they are becoming harder and harder to find, so I tend to keep the list of blogs I visit regularly to those that are more review-focused.

    Writing reviews is still the main blogging that I do – and part of that is because I like to publish my reviews elsewhere than GR, but also because I like putting down everything I felt in writing.. But that’s my lack of creativity, rather than my lack of interest in discussion posts, for example.

  • Jaedia

    I’ve almost always skimmed reviews. They take a lot of time and effort to read and especially if it’s a book I’m not interested in, I’d rather spend that time reading a book, you know? I do, however, read reviews when I’m looking for books to read or wondering if a book is “for me” and in that case I tend to turn to Amazon and Goodreads for a good variety.

    However, everybody is different, which is why I still write reviews. 🙂 I do think, though, that the blogosphere as a whole could do with de-formulaicing their reviews over time. Write them similarly to a discussion post, a top ten Tuesday, anything that draws people’s attention. That’s my aim, from now on. Not only will it be more fun to read, and more like “me”, it’ll be more fun to put together.

  • Jo K.

    I still write reviews, but I must admit I almost stopped reading them and just do it very rarely now, if a book really catches my attention. I used to read reviews and I love reading them, but to me personally it got too frustrating because of a number of reasons you mentioned, but mainly, that there are just too many books that sound good and I would like to read but will never get to because of lack time and finances. I do enjoy reading the reviews of the books I’ve read and pitch in to the the discussion, but as mostly don’t read the fresh-out-of-the-press books and the reviews of older books are are, there aren’t many of those where I can do that.

  • http://fantasyreviewbarn.com/ Nathan (@reviewbarn)

    My focus is reviews so I think people know that who follow me. It probably cost me some followers not branching out but I know they are being read (I too am a Good reads offshoot).

    Proof of this is pretty easy to find, most of my most popular posts are reviews of highly anticipated novels.

  • http://www.nijifeels.com/ Cayce

    I don’t always comment, but I do read reviews. Quite a lot, I think. I actually don’t have such a HUGE tbr so when I find a book that sounds really, really good I can add it and read it in like a few weeks 🙂 But yes, I don’t read reviews of books I’m already really, really looking forward to because I AM afraid of spoilers, A BIT. Haha.

    “Certain ARCs are everywhere; reading a review of the same book over and over just isn’t appealing” THIS. YES.

    And yes, I still write reviews, or well, I have started writing them again, but I’ve disabled comments on (most of) them for REASONS. (like, I hated getting comments like “great review” and never knew how to reply to the comments that wouldn’t be boring/repetitive so yeah…)

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  • http://www.betweenmylines.com/ Trish Hannon

    I love reviews and I think the reason is that I’m another blogger who is a Goodreads offspring. I found GR first, then started writing reviews, then learned how popular book blogging was and joined it. So I started so I’d have a place to put all my reviews together and then be able to talk about other book stuff. And at the time I didn’t even know about ARCs! And the thing about my reviews is that I’m writing them for myself first, I like writing them, I like rereading them and I just like having the record of my thoughts for the book.
    So for me reviews are important. However if I’m reading a book soon I won’t read one. And I’ll only read so many for the same book (unless I’ve read it, then I’m more interested). I do love seeing the different review styles that people have and I’m always trying to think of ways to jazz mine up. But as important as reviews are to me, I also love bookish discussion as they are just more interactive and give you more food for thought than a review can.

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  • http://www.notyetread.com/ Tabitha (@Not Yet Read)

    I’m always going to write reviews! I still read reviews but I am pickier about who’s reviews I read. I also still read them on goodreads too. Luckily I read half adult and half ya and I think the bulk of the non reading of reviews might be happening with YA because there are way more arcs distributed in that target audience them adult books in the SFF genres I read. I also don’t only cover be released because hey I like to read older books that I’ve always meant to get around to reading Anne I still review those too. I haven’t noticed a difference in page views on my reviews versus my non review type posts. But then I don’t do as many memes. Usually just my own art day and the occasional mailbox post and then even more rarely the top ten Tuesday post. But sometimes there will be a review going up almost every day on my site. If folks don’t want to read the review on my blog that’s fine because I also cross post it to goodreads and Amazon because for me it’s about getting my thoughts out there to whoever might find it useful.

    I personally try not to write very long reviews because I do think very long reviews are less likely to get read by a normal non blogger reader. Back before I was a blogger there is no way I would read a 700 – 1k word review. And The same goes for now. I think reviews shouldn’t be mini novels lol, those long ones are usually the ones that go into to much detail for my comfort. I love pro con lists and quirky type reviews. Glad too hear you still read then too!

  • Elicia Cheah

    I personally still read and write reviews, but I’ve noticed the same thing with my reviews- that it gets less pageviews than my other memes. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the way I promote my reviews that have to be improved, or it’s the review itself. But either way, I’ll NEVER stop reading or writing reviews. Reading reviews are always great when it comes to finding new books for your TBR. And writing reviews are a great way to improve your writing skills.

  • http://booksntea.wordpress.com/ Jackie @ Books & Tea

    I have a mixed opinion about this topic. For the most part, my page views do dip on the days I post reviews. But, I’m still going to post reviews because it still satisfies me, and that’s kind of the point of my blog, right? That being said, some of the posts that have staying power…are reviews. Each day, I receive hits on book reviews that wrote nearly 3 years ago. And the ones that get the most visits aren’t even snarky ones! So…people do read the reviews.

    As a reader of blogs, I don’t read reviews for new releases because I know I won’t pick up the book until it comes out in paperback. Plus, it’s hard to discuss a book I haven’t read yet. So, I stick with reviews for books I’ve already read, which is such a challenge when everyone is writing about all the new books!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      I agree, reviews do seem to have the most staying power. One of my reviews of 2012 still gets dozens of hits every single month. Discussion posts like this one are great for a spike of attention, but they don’t tend to get read after the first week or two.

      It does make me sad that older books don’t get the same amount of attention as new books do. I get it, but old books are more fun to discuss, because more people are bound to have read it. A review of a book that I’ve read draws my attention more than a review of a new release.

      Great thoughts, thanks for stopping by Jackie!

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