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?
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?