Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Salon 4 - ARCs, etc.

Is it just me or has the blogosphere been relatively quiet this week? I had expected the read-a-thoners to be posting reviews of all the books they read last Saturday/Sunday, but I haven't seen a lot of that. Maybe you're like me...just a little bit burned out.

This was one of those weeks. I think it was partially so icky because of the extreme high from the read-a-thon (did you see how excited I was at 6:00 am??) that my mood had no where to go but down. Top it off with a busy week at work and my husband being sick with whoknowswhat. I took a half day on Friday so that I could come home and unwind for a bit, but when I got home I found that my dog had been sick all over the house. My half day turned into a trip to the vet day. Certainly not my idea of unwinding.

I had another little source of disappointment this week that has sparked two questions--one about ARCs and another about what works well on your (my) blog. I'll save the later part, what works well, for next week's Salon so that this post doesn't start to get really unruly--especially as I'm sure I'll be doing my fair share of rambling.

ARCs, Author Interviews, Guest Posts

Let me preface this conversation by first saying that I am NOT trying to hurt anyone's feelings or saying that seeking out/accepting ARCs is a bad thing. I'm not singling anyone out and I hope I don't offend anyone with this conversation. As for me, my email is not being beaten down with offers of ARCs. I've tried not to dwell on the fact that I don't receive a million offers, and I really am ok with that. I'm ok with saying no to a book that doesn't interest me. I stopped seeking out ARCs last December when I realized that my intake was getting a little over the top, although I only took in about 16 books last year from authors, publishers, and publicists. I still have a handful of those books sitting on my shelf to be read, which is why I deleted my email subscription to Shelf Awareness. There are just so many other books on my shelf that I want to read as well (I'll talk about this more next week with what works well).

I made my first exception this year when I was approached about participating in a TLC Blog Tour for Tea and Other Ayama Tales. The book sounded like it was right up my alley. And it was! I was excited and worked really hard on my review. I wanted to do a good job for the author and for the ladies at TLC, and I have to admit that I was disappointed at the relative lack of interest. This got me to thinking about ARCs and author interviews and guest posts. The connection? Lately I don't pay as much attention to these types of posts and I'm wondering how alone I am in my lack of interest.

How do you feel about posts about ARCs, author interviews, and guest posts?

Do you read them all? Are there getting to be too many or would you like to see more? If X amount of people are reading the same book and interviewing the same author, do you read all of those posts? Do you find guest posts interesting? Are you leery of reviewers who are always giving praise to every book they receive (I think this topic has been well covered this week and we don't really need to go there). Do you enter all the giveaways in hopes that you'll get a shiny new book in the mail? Are you a new blogger trying to figure out how you can get your hands on ARCs as well?

Who are the publishers really trying to reach by sending out their books to bloggers for review? Are they trying to reach US (ie book bloggers) or do they just want a review out there so that if someone else Googles their book several reviews will pop up? For those of you speaking on panels in the next few months, I'd LOVE to know why publishers are reaching out to bloggers and what they hope to accomplish by sending us books. I know that my personal TBR has increased because of it, but certainly we are not the end of the line, right? Certainly these ARCs are not just for OUR benefit? I'd love to hear your take.

Like I said, this is not meant to be a stab at anyone who reads a lot of ARCs. There is certainly an audience for it as you can tell by the number of comments some of these reviews receive. For me, I sometimes miss the blogosphere before the flood of ARCs--I miss seeing reviews for the books I've heard of or the books I have on my shelf, and I'll be honest in saying that I gravitate towards the bloggers who are still reading those types of books. Yes, I know I need to get with the program and accept that the blogosphere is an ever evolving world. And I think it should be. And the attention that bloggers are getting from publishers and authors is really exciting. We are valid and our opinions do matter. But I'm curious about your opinions on ARCs, etc.--any and all.


J.S. Peyton said...

I don't get many ARC copies myself. At first, it kind of bothered me - especially when some bloggers got free copies of books I'd been looking forward to reading - but now I see it as a blessing in disguise. I read really slowly and I read by mood. Plus, my TBR pile is already a mile high, so there's really no need to add more books to the mix. I have no problem turning down ARC offers of books I know I'm not all that interested in reading.

I don't tend to avoid reviews of ARC books, unless I feel as if I've seen a review of that book several times already. I'm participating in my first blogging tour in June with "The 19th Wife." I know there have already been a lot of reviews on this book already, so I wouldn't feel bad if readers weren't as interested in reading my review. I am glad I have the opportunity to read this book though, because I'm enjoying it a lot. I look forward to sharing that with my readers.

Lezlie said...

It is exciting that bloggers are being recognized, and I'm happy for those that are interested in taking their blogs down that path. Me personally, I've stopped accepting any ARCs at all, even books I really, really want to read. Honestly, once I've seen a two or three reviews of the same book come up in a matter of a few days, I start skipping all the rest.

There is definitely a place and an audience for all those folks who are looking to read and review new books, but I'm like you. I tend to pay closer attention to the reviews/posts about books that have been around a while that I'm thinking of reading or books I've already read so I can see what others thought of it.

The book blog world is definitely evolving but, as I've said in a number of comments, I would hope each blogger finds what makes them happy as a blog writer and go with it rather than simply following a trend. Variety is a good thing!


Wendy said...

Great post, Trish. I don't think publishers are giving away free books without a BIG increased sales. I believe book bloggers are positively influencing sales and ratings of books (even if a review is negative, the book is getting attention). My understanding is that ARCs are actually MORE expensive to reproduce than finished copies...and so to see so many ARCs making their way into bloggers' hands makes me think there is a monetary payoff for the publisher. It is not just because they like us *smiles*

I get a lot of new books - probably more than I should accept since I am always behind in reading them...but I love reading the newest books and so I'm like an addict when I see them offered. Lately I've been better at saying "no"...and I never accept a book I don't really, really want to read. I *do* think that there are sometimes too many reviews of the same book.

I think Lezlie's last sentence is important: Variety is a good thing. I still try to read the older books on my shelves and also the classics. It is a balancing act.

claire said...

I respect book bloggers who accept ARCs and think no less of them than others who don't. We all have our own reading (and blogging) preferences. We all have our blogging motives. I admit to succumbing to the lure of free books myself. So, no, I don't mind the bloggers who get ARCs.

However, like you, Trish, I also almost never read posts on author interviews and blog tours unless it's about a book that really truly interests me. My reading taste moves around classics and prize winners and translated books, and most especially books from all over the world. And ARCs are mostly US. Not that I don't love books from the US, because I do. But only that my reading cravings are more diverse than that. So I don't read so much of the ARC reviews not because they're ARCs but because there are other books that are more interesting to me.

On the other hand, being a new blogger, I've often wondered how so many bloggers get free books. A few authors have emailed me offering to participate in blog tours and have offered free books, but I declined most of them. I only accepted, so far, one book that I'm truly interested in reading. At first I thought I was crazy for not accepting those free books, but then realized later that I made the right decision, as, ultimately, I just want to read what I enjoy reading, and not feel like what I'm reading is a homework to review.

More on free books: I've only just discovered them, through Hachette (by hosting giveaways). And I admit it is kind of tiresome to read about the same books everywhere. Still, and I've been going over this in my head, I realized I don't mind reviewing a few of the books that's been going around, if those were books that I would love to read anyway, free or not free. So, yes, right now I've started to accept free books, but only only those I really really would like to read.

I think this has been enough rambling. Sorry!

Oh and by the way, I've been feeling the slump after the read-a-thon, too. I guess we've all been feeling a little burnt out, and quite understandable.

claire said...

P.S. Sorry, I just had to add: I tend to read blogs that read the same books as I do, so that means blogs who read almost no ARCs, if at all. I would visit other blogs for particular reviews, though, but my regular reads are the former.

Trish said...

*JS Peyton - I'm like you in that I read by mood and have entire bookshelves full of books that need to be read (and that I *want* to read). I sometimes wonder how bloggers get so many ARCs, but I think they make themselves more available? I'll be interested in what you think of The 19th Wife!! I haven't read it but the subject is interesting and even a little personal for me as I have ancestors who were Mormon polygamists.

*Lezlie - Variety is good and it is what keeps me bloghopping. And I do read reviews for ARCs that I am interested in, but not if there are 10 in one day. My favorite reviews are for the books that I plan to read already or have already read.

*Wendy - I don't participate in FirstLook (can't remember the publisher), but I completed a survey for them the other day. I was really interested in how many questions revolved around paying a nominal fee for receiving ARCs. Wonder how many people would pay $5 or so for a "free" book?? Anyway, I like balance in my reading as well.

*Claire - Don't apologize for rambling! I love it! :) I'm with you on many of your points--reading blogs where the person as similar reading tastes. As I was reading your list "classics and prize winners and translated books" I was thinking yup yup yup, that's me! Maybe I'm just not as interested in the types of books being offered up for advanced reading? Accepting books is NOT a bad thing, and I really hope that people don't think that that's what I'm saying. But as the bookblogging community is moving more and more towards ARCs, I've been really interested in these questions. And wondering if anyone else is thinking about these things too.

Amanda said...

I don't even know how a person can get an ARC. Seriously. I wish I did, though. I'd be interested in reading and reviewing some if I got to choose ahead of time.

I don't really read interviews when they come out unless they're with authors I already know. As for guest posts, if they match the blog (a guest reviewer, for instance), I'll probably read it. If it's just advertising, I don't.

Scrap girl said...

I am just impressed that people manage to get hold of free books and I am obviously going wrong somewhere. I don't mind people reviewing ARC's - I enjoy hearing about new books due to come out.

I know what you mean about it being a bit quiet on here. I have definitely read a lot less posts this week.

Literary Feline said...

I need to take a blogging break soon, I think. Maybe I'll wrap up the book festival and then disappear for a little while.

I hope your dog is doing better, Trish.

I'm not sure now is the time to get into this since I need to run out the door, but maybe it will force me to be brief. :-)

What Wendy said. Seriously, I agree with many of the points she made.

That being said, I really don't care who is getting more ARC offers than someone else. It's not something I think about. I don't base my reading of blogs on whether someone is reading ARC's or older books. I read blogs with content that interests me: be it older books or newer ones, because I like that blogger's personality and writing style, or other non-review related material they may post for example. I like author interviews and guest posts because I'm curious about the authors and their lives--simple as that.

I do accept books for review but never a book that I don't think I would enjoy. I don't do this just to have a "free" book--although it does help the budget tremendously.

Hence why I write more positive reviews than negative ones. I'm a pretty good judge of knowing what I will like, and since I read for pleasure and get so little reading time as it is, I prefer to read books I'll enjoy. I don't want to waste my time on books I won't like. I know of other people who only post positive reviews because they don't review books they didn't like (because they didn't finish them). We all have our own reasons for why we review the way we do--and not all of them are because we are trying to get more "free" books. This is a bit of a hot button for me, as you can tell. :-)

I have written a handful of what I would call negative reviews--but I'm nice about it. I don't believe in being cruel or mean. I'm not out to discourage anyone from reading a book she might be interested in. We all have different tastes and interests, after all. I like to point out the positives too. If I finished the book in question, I had to have liked something about it otherwise it would have ended up in my DNF pile.

There are ways a blogger can gain more attention to their blog and get ARC offers if that is what they want. It takes effort and work on their part. For some, it's just a matter of having the right connections, sure, but not for most of us.

I think it is wonderful that book bloggers are being taken more seriously by the publishing industry. We are the consumers and our opinions (and money) are important.

That said, and I think you'd agree, I think what we need to be careful of is that we don't become one big commercial for publishers and authors. As the founder of Goodreads said yesterday at the book festival, as a blogger and reader, I don't review books to sell them; I review them to help me remember them (and to discuss them with other readers who may have read them or are considering reading them). At least this is true for me.

That doesn't mean we don't help sell them, however unitentionally--look at how many of us have pages and pages of wish lists! But that's not the fault of ARC reviews--that's just the way we readers are. I'm copying down the older titles just as quickly as the newer ones.

It can be a little overwhelming when everyone is reviewing exactly the same book, I agree. However, I also see a plus side to it. I don't belong to a face to face book group and most of my online reading groups do not have a group read. It's fun to compare notes with others who have read books I have read--and when several of us read it at the same time, it makes it even more fun. The book is fresh in our minds and there's an opportunity for discussion if people want to take advantage of that.

Book blogging for me is something I do as a serious hobby--I take it seriously but it is not something I get paid for. If I ceased having fun doing it, I probably would stop. I'm really only out there to have fun, enjoy the community and share my love of reading with others.

So much for being brief, eh? Have a good week, Trish.

Wendy said...

Trish: I did that same survey for First Look. To be honest, I don't think they are going to get a lot of readers interested in paying for an ARC. Do the publishers charge print reviewers for their review copies?!?! I find it a little insulting as a lit-blogger that a publisher would ask me to spend a great deal of time reading and reviewing a book for them (which boosts their sales) and then expect me to pay them for a review copy of the book! If the ARCs dry up, I'll still be reading and reviewing books I buy myself :)

samantha.1020 said...

Trish- I'm kinda blah when it comes to the ARC issues. It doesn't really affect me either way...I just feel like I am the middle of the road with it. I personally have decided to try and not accept any more ARCs unless I absolutely cannot resist. I'm doing good so far :) I just enjoy the library and my mood reading too much and feel badly if I don't want to read a review book. As to other things like guest posts, well, if I read your blog then I will read those posts as well. But I don't seek out those kinds of posts and I do tend to skim them sometimes if I'm not interested. Interesting topic of discussion :)

Trish said...

Oh dear--I feel I just opened a much bigger can of worms that I had intended. :(

*Amanda - I sent you an email about receiving ARCs and some different avenues you can explore.

*Scrap Girl - If you google Book Blog Ning there is a website that a blogger set up and there are lots of different ways you can get ARCs there. Also, google Shelf Awareness and you can subscribe to a daily email that sometimes has ads for ARCs. I get a few random emails here and there from publishers/publicists, but I don't know ALL of the ways people get review copies.

*Literary Feline - Oh no! I was kind of afraid of this and I edited and rewrote my post about a thousand times hoping that I wouldn't offend anyone or step on any toes. I read blogs for the same exact reason you do--I have usually connected with the PERSON on some type of level. If that person reads a lot of ARCs, I still take the time and effort because of the connection. If there is no connection, well, that's a different story. I'm always adding new and old books to my wishlist and I've found some really great books through ARCs. BUT, I'm still drawn to reviews that interest me the most--and I think that every blogger feels this way on some level or another. If I'm in a time crunch, which I usually am, and I see 10 of the same ARC review, I'm probably going to skip them all. If I see that you've read Woman in White, I'm going to run to your site to see what you thought. Maybe it comes down to preference. But I'm not saying ARCs are bad. I'm really really really not. I've been thinking about taking a blogging break as well. I'm burned out. Hope the rest of your weekend goes well.

*Wendy - I don't think ARCs are going anywhere anytime soon. But yes, I think most of us have Mountain TBR that we can pull from. :)

*Sam - My mood dictates my reading as well, so I know where you're coming from. And there's nothing worse than feeling like you HAVE to read a book. Ick! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'm going to come off a little mean with my responses, but I wanted to be honest. Hopefully, I won't offend anyone.

To be honest, I never read author interviews even if they’re about authors whose books I’ve already read. I blow right past them because, honestly, I don’t care about the name of their cat/dog, their favorite recipe, or their writing habits. I think it’s getting to be too much of a status symbol -- look at how many authors have come on my blog and spoken! -- and of those I have read, I often wonder if the interviewer has even read the book.

I also don’t accept ARCs anymore; one bad experience ruined the whole thing for me. I have so many books I already own to read that getting more seems, well, dumb. Plus, ARCs usually come with “Advanced Reader Copy” stamped across it, which means I can’t swap it on PaperBack for another book I would enjoy. I stuck with a book I didn’t like, and while I could give it away, people seem to avoid giveaways in which you panned the book. Go figure! :-P

I tend to read blogs that similar taste as mine. Just looking at your sidebar list of the books you’ve read this year, I know that you and I have read four of the same books. I also read a lot of classics for school, along with books on economics and politics, so I look for other bloggers who enjoy the classics. Not to say I don’t read contemporary books because I do; I just look for book bloggers who share a similar interest as myself. {For example, Natasha of Maw Books and I both read a lot of books about FLDS and polygamy.}

Truth be told, I get annoyed when everyone seems to be reading the same book. I’ll usually read one or two reviews about the book. Maybe a few more if people are split on the book, but if there are eight or nine reviews out there and you’re isn’t one of the first, I don’t bother. I’ve already made up my mind weather or not the book interests me.

As for guest posts, I rarely read them. Lisa Roe, who connects authors with bloggers, did three great guest posts as a tribute to Dewey, but for the most part I skip over them.

I used to enter every giveaway until I realized I was perpetually posting about giveaways, and I really don’t have the shelf space to keep adding books.

And finally, I don’t think publishers really are trying to reach us; I think it’s all just to increase the number of hits their book gets when someone googles it. But then again I’m a pessimist.

And, yes, I have noticed how quite the place has been. I was just thinking to myself yesterday, "Where did everybody go?"

Molly said...

What a great post -- and it is obvious that you took a lot of time to carefully edit the piece in order not to unintentionally offend anyone.

I consider myself a very new blogger and so I really do not have much to add that has not been said already (the comments were just as informative as your post!!). While I sometimes wish I could be on the ARC lists and receive numerous free books throughout the year, the truth of the matter is I would be pretty selective. I would only want to read books that I think would truly interest me -- otherwise I don't think my review would be of much value. AND...I would only want to accept books that I felt I could review in a reasonable amount of time. I can be pretty "self-guilting" as my husband says, and if there is one thing that I do NOT need in my life - that is to add pressure to my leisure time reading.

So for now, I am content with winning a few give aways (and I only enter contests for books I really want to read) and perhaps one or two of the Hatchette offers through Book Blogs. I enjoy reading reviews of ALL kinds of books -- new releases as well as old classics -- and I choose to read blogs that I find a personal connection to the author.

Carl V. said...

I think we all are still sleeping, recovering from the read-a-thon!!!

I took some ARC's when I first started blogging but then quit doing so because I whim read so much that I felt guilty when I took a book and ended up not wanting to read it. I have a couple of publishers that will send me books if I request them, which is great, but I rarely do. The tbr pile is just too big.

And the reason publishers are willing to send ARC's out is very simple...they want to sell books and they know that any exposure is better than no exposure. Book blogging is a growing phenomenon and reviews of books by the 'common' man/woman is a great way to sell books. It costs a publisher a relatively small amount to send out ARC's and in many cases can be a much better use of advertising dollars. I think it is great that they recognize readers as worthwhile advertising investments, but as for me I just don't want the pressure I feel when someone sends me a book.

Meghan said...

I do accept and review ARCs. I don't have as many as some bloggers, partly because I've been attempting to cut back and partly because I only accept ones that I can pick up in time from my parents' house since I'm studying in the UK right now. British publishers aren't as enthusiastic as American ones, I've discovered. I'll read blogs who review any variety of books if I like the blogger or their style.

I do make an effort to review my own books on my blog, though. I know some bloggers who only review ARCs and I know that just wouldn't work for me because I know people aren't going to necessarily be buying them when they're released. For one thing, ARCs/review copies are almost always new books and I just can't afford to buy hardcovers unless it's an absolute favorite author. For another, it seems most are literary fiction and I have to be in a certain mood to enjoy it. I don't know if others feel that way, but I try to introduce variety into my blog. I'm not really going to get that ARC for at least a year, although I do write down those that interest me, so maybe my readers won't either.

I'll be honest and say I do sometimes ignore interviews and guest posts. It depends if I've heard of or like the author or if I was interested from the review. If one book is being reviewed everywhere, I may stop reading the reviews after a while, especially if they're all praising the book, but that will usually garner it a spot on my wishlist.

I would really be interested to know if blogs have increased or helped sales figures at all. I don't know about everyone else but I rarely get non-bloggers commenting on my reviews. I get a fair number of visits and I get non-bloggers on contests, but I often wonder how much we are doing to boost sales. If every blogger gets an ARC of book A and the review is read mostly by bloggers, who goes out and buys the book? If I love it, I'll tell people about it, but not many of those people can buy books in hardcover. I suspect blog tours after paperback releases would be more effective, but maybe that's just me.

Saying all that, I am clearly benefiting from this new trend and I do sincerely hope we are boosting publisher's sales. I'm blogging because I like to post my thoughts on what I'm reading and I wouldn't stop if the ARCs stopped coming, so overall it doesn't affect me terribly. I'd love to know if I was helping the publishing industry along in my small way, though.

cj said...

Trish, if anyone was offended by your post then they were looking to be offended and I wouldn't worry too much about them. I hate that we've become so concerned about other people's feelings that we feel the need to apologize for stating our own opinions.

So, that said: I'm not a fan of ARC's. I don't look for them but as we speak, I have an email asking me to review two books and I'm leaning toward saying no, thanks. Not my cup of tea.

As for author interviews - I don't want to know a lot about the authors I enjoy. They're welcome to their beliefs and their causes and all of that but I've been turned off by a couple of things I've read to the point of it interferring in my enjoyment of their work. So, I don't read interviews. I also don't pay attention to interviews of actors for the same reason.

As for give-aways, I sign up if I think I might truly enjoy the book but I'm not a contest-winning kinda person so it's not a big deal.

And, as for the authors or publishers - it's free publicity, isn't it? No harm in it but they may discover too much isn't a good thing.

Great discussion, seriously.


Trish said...

*Jacketsandcovers - I really really appreciate your honesty. I agree with most of what you said about one bad experience ruining them all and wanting to read blogs with similar tastes. I guess the good news is that we don't have to read every post, we can skip as we feel like it.

*Molly - I fall into that self-guilting category as well. My husband mentioned something to me the other day about not receiving many books lately and I said--I still haven't read the ones I got last September! :) I don't think it is fair for me to accept a book that I can't read in a reasonable amount of time. I don't think everyone has that self-guilting gene, though. Personal connection is *incredibly* important to me as well. :)

*Carl - It is exposure and I don't think the ARCs are for bloggers' benefit. I do think it is a fascinating concept and I wish I knew more about the marketing trends involved. Boring! Haha! I don't like the pressure either. I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it. :P

*Meghan - I'm with you on being able to afford new books. Actually, when I see an ARC that I HAVE to have, I try to get my hands on an ARC copy. :) It sounds like from some of the other commenters that bloggers have increased sales, but I would love to know more about this as well. Publishers wouldn't be pushing us books if it wasn't help them!

*CJ - Thank you. :) This is the type of post where I keep re-reading it trying to find anything that could possibly offend someone (although I've noticed that the heavy ARC readers aren't commenting...). I had this post scheduled to post and at Midnight last night I finally put it as a draft again so I could do some last minute editing this morning. My husband told me I'm crazy. I sign up for a book if I'm truly interested as well, but I don't as much lately because I just have too many books!! I don't read author interviews either and actually hadn't planned to with this tour but felt like I was backed into a corner. Another source of frustration!! Ah well... Hope you're having a great weekend, CJ.

claire said...

This is in response to LIterary Feline's comment about writing positive reviews. I'm like her in that I'm also a pretty good judge of knowing what I will like, so most of the books I do read are hits rather than misses. So if you read my blog you'll know I mostly write positive reviews.

Also, if I read into a book and don't enjoy it, I usually chuck it the first few pages, so I don't count them as being read at all, thus I don't do a review.

All of the books I have finished and have written about I enjoyed to a degree. Some of those I didn't completely love but finished because they still interested me, so no I don't write that many negative reviews, if at all.

If I were the kind of reader who finished books that are torture to them, I would probably write more negative reviews. As it is, books I don't enjoy I really don't want to give my precious time to.

The not-so-positive reviews I do write are still nice, just because this is the way I am. I don't like being rude or mean to an author. I will say, kindly, that I didn't enjoy a book very much, but I can't be mean about it, it's just not me.

Lisa said...

Trish, you know you and I are on the same page here! I don't get offered many ARCs and I accept even fewer. I can't make myself read for challenges in a timely manner, let alone ARCs for a release date. I do start to question some reviewers when every review is an ARC AND a positive review. I can't help it. I skim the author interviews for most of them (which is bad, because I'm going to do an author interview myself soon! Except it's not a blog tour, it's an author I approached personally. Does that make it better?) I believe that they are benefiting from the random people who google a book and hit on the blogs.

I'll come out and say it- I much preferred reading blogs back when people were reading books they heard about from other bloggers, and not when people were all reading the same book because there is a blog tour on it. There are exceptions- there is a super popular sewing book on tour right now and I'm LOVING the blog tour on it. Everyone brings their own creativity to the projects which makes every post unique. I love it when everyone reads The Book Thief because it's so good, not when everyone reads Matrimony because everyone has a free copy. My favorite posts are "I was at the library and saw Book X and it looked interesting, and it WAS. Here's why..." I found Eat, Pray, Love that way, back before it was everywhere. I love it when people say "I was reading Book Y and it mentioned post-war London, so I had to go check Book Z out of the library." That seems so much more natural. I love seeing book reviews spread because people love the book.

Anyway, I suspect that I've a) rambled off topic and b) offended some blog friends by now, so I'll hush. Also, I can't proofread, hope this makes sense.

Vasilly said...

What a great post!

I think everyone is still recovering from the read-a-thon so it'll probably be next week when we've fully recovered.

Personally, I no longer accept ARCs. I'm a moody reader so what I think I want to read and what I end up reading are often two very different things. I also deleted my member subscription to LT's Early Reviewer Program.

It's great if others want them, but I'm like jacketsandcovers: if I keep seeing the same book reviewed over and over again I'll stop reading the posts for that book. If I end up reading the book, I don't review it. For what? There's so many reviews already out there.

To be honest, I almost never read guest posts or author interviews. Usually I've never heard of the author or read their book. I also don't read posts for book tours. It ends up being a blog-fest for one book that you keep seeing repeatedly for a solid week. It can be annoying.

There are a ton of books that have been published and sometimes it seems like bloggers are reading the same books. We do influence each others' reading but still. . . I don't often read books the same year they're published so I'm glad to add to the community by reviewing books that most of us haven't read.

Michelle said...

My, My. What a response this post is getting. Book bloggers/reviewiers are a passionate people, right? I really do not know much about ARC books, I have only read two that I have won in a giveaway, and I loved both of them. I am not even sure if I fully understand ARC. New releases? Pre releases? None of the above?!?! I prefer to read blogs about books that I have heard of and that I personally have as well. Also about books that I have already read, it is fun to see what others thought of the same book and to see how tastes differ. That is the most fun for me...

farmlanebooks said...

I have loved reading everyone’s comments on this post. I thought I was in the minority by not coveting ARCs, but I’m pleased I am not alone. My TBR pile is so big, that I don’t really want to be reading unknown books which may be rubbish. I like reading ones which have been recommended by a trusted person, or have won a prize of some kind.

My blog list is now so long that I don’t normally read reviews on other people’s blogs unless I recognise the book, or they have a clear high score at the bottom of the review, or they are one of my favourite blogs. Life is just too short!

Becky said...

I do accept ARCs, have author interviews, participate in blog tours.

And other than sometimes feeling a little overwhelmed, I'm happy to blog this way.

I do try to offer great variety on my blog though. I don't just do one thing to the exclusion of all others. Though YA is one of my passions, I love love love reading classics. Since becoming a blogger, I've really embraced classics. And these are books that aren't free. So while I may get the free review copy for some books, I spend money buying books...just not necessarily YA books...I buy grown-up books and classics. I love reading adult books too.

I also use my local library a lot.

The philosophy I've adopted--in a way--is that you can't interest your blog readers with each and every book you review. That would be nearly impossible. Especially if you are diverse/eclectic in what you're reviewing. You can't please everyone all the time.

So a blend of old, new, and everything in between. It's fine to post reviews of popular/bestselling books. But it's good--really really good--to review books that don't have such heavy coverage. But I'd never adopt (not that I'm suggesting you suggested) the attitude well, I can't review this one because it's been reviewed here, here, here, and over there. :) Sometimes it can just be a matter of timing.

And even if a book has been reviewed--seemingly here there and everywhere--it doesn't mean the reviews necessarily have to be cookie cutter. We all bring different experiences to the reading. We all could have/should have varying responses to it. Reviews can be personal and subjective like that. A window into how someone else has read that book.

Trish said...

I'm loving the diversity in everyone's answers!

*Claire - I don't love everything that I read, but I'm a persistant reader so you'll find negative reviews on my site. Been better this year, though. I know other bloggers are the same as you and no one's judging. I think that once upon a time when ARCs were first coming in bloggers weren't always quite as honest, but I think things have mostly changed.

*Lisa - My damn washing machine is broken. I miss the old days when everyone was reading the same book because it was sooooo good. I think we still see a little bit of this (Hunger Games immediately comes to mind), but boo! Yes, I agree that publishers are benefiting from google hits, not bloggers. We're a relatively small bunch...not enough to make a dent in sales!

*Vasilly - I'm with you that I don't often read recently published books. Can't afford the hardcover price and don't use the library. It wasn't until last year with the ARCs that I even started reading current current stuff. Oh well, to each her own. Thanks for your honest comment.

*Michelle - ARC is Advanced Reading Copy or ARE I believe is Advanced Reading Edition. These generally come out a few months before the book is actually published, have a soft cover, and are sometimes not the final final copy (ARC sometimes has typos/editing errors that will be fixed or content that changes slightly). A year ago you almost never heard about them on the blogosphere. I really like reading about books that I've already read as well. It's fun to compare notes.

*Farmlanebooks - I was kind of thinking I was alone as well, but I guess there are a few of us in it together. I'd be interested in hearing from some of the bloggers who do read a lot of ARCs. I've come to trust the opinion of some of my favorite bloggers and have read some great books that they've recommended, but interestingly enough, very few of these are recent publications.

*Becky - I certainly agree that there is enough taste to go around and make everyone happy. I know that every review I write is not going to be popular or well commented on, but I have noticed a trend with my ARC posts (few and far between). Just seems like there isn't as much interest in those versus the classics or world literature that I read. Maybe that's just my audience? And I absolutely agree for the most part that people bring a different angle to each book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

Becky said...

I think reviewing books before their publication *can* limit comments. People can (and do) say things like, "Oh, that looks good. I want to read that." Or "I wish I could read it now." Or "I hope my library gets that one."

But when you review an older book--especially classics--then you invite more interaction and dialogue. Everyone seems to have an opinion--whether they agree or disagree with your review--because there is a familiarity there. If they've read the book, read the author, then they have a better opportunity to contribute to a conversation.

I don't know if it's so much that people aren't "interested" in reading reviews of seems to be they have the same chance of interest/disinterest as anything's the do they have anything to really comment on.

When you post about Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights (or Swiss Family Robinson or Pride and Prejudice, or whatever) people are there and involved and wanting to chime in.

3m (Michelle) said...

Trish, this was a great post, and it is something that I've been trying to sort out in my own mind lately as well.

I do read and review ARCs, but I am seriously trying to cut back on that as I am also one of those who misses the 'old days' of book blogging. ARC reviewing has exploded, and though I have enjoyed reading *about* new books to a certain extent and have also enjoyed reading some of them, there is a saturation point for me.

The blogs I like to read are ones that have a variety of book reviews -- older books, award winning books, challenge books, foreign books (especially!), and the occasional new book.

I still plan on reading ARCs -- especially Adichie's new book and Zafon's new book, but I will also continue to cut back on the ARCs I request. I have found that I enjoy reading the books I choose for challenges too much to give them up. Last year about 1/3 of the books I read (over 30 of 100+) were 2008 books, and I'd like to have that be around 20-25% in a given year. I'd also just like to 'discover' some of them at the library.

I'm glad you brought this topic up, and I'm even happier that many commenters also feel the same way. I started blogging just for myself -- to track my thoughts and feelings about the books I read. While that's still a goal, my other primary goal is just being able to recommend good books to those who have similar reading tastes. I really *don't* want my blog to be too commercial, although I don't mind giving attention to lesser-known authors who deserve more attention.

I will be anxiously awaiting next week's post as well!

Mari said...

I like reading reviews of books I have read and of books that I have to read. It makes for better discussions in the comments.

New books, or ARCs just don't garner much more than "Sounds good", "Can't wait to read" type of comments. As far as blog tours... when the same book is on every blog I tend to skip. It gets a bit much at times. The interviews and the guest posts tend to be skipped more often.

I have done one guest post but not sure I will be doing again. I do get some offers to review books, not very many and I happily accept the books that sound like something I will enjoy. I only enter giveaways for books I really want to read and the same goes for The Early Reviewers program on LT. This month I only requested 2. This is where most of my ARC's have come from. And by that I mean about 5.

I started my blog to post reviews for challenges I had entered and to keep track of books I read throughout the year. I think I have managed to keep it as such. I hope. :)

Chris said...

I've gotten quite a few more ARCs recently because of Twitter and Shelf Awareness. There are positives and negatives. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by the # I feel I have to read and review. I have to cut back some.

I know the goal for publishers is to sell more books but I'll only accept or request ones I'm really interested in.

It can seem like too much of a good thing when everyone is reviewing the same book. Of course like Nancy says, it is fun to compare opinions when a lot of people have read the same book I have.

Melody said...

Before I started blogging, I didn't know there's such thing as ARCs, seriously. And after about two years more of blogging, it was only last year that I began to receive emails from authors and publicists about reviewing books for them. The idea excited me, so I thought to give it a try.

That said, I don't say yes to all the requests either. I do ask for blurbs and decide if I want to read them, that's it. As for authors' interiviews or guest posts, I like hearing the authors' opinions and get a glimpse of their life outside books and writings.

As for blog tours, I don't mind them and I think it's good to read and compare opinions.

I've more of my books than ARCs anyway, and for this I've to thank all my bloggy friends because of their recommendations, I buy them. Keep them coming! :)

Kristie said...

I personally don't read author tours and guest posts that often, but I do enjoy reviews of ARCs. I guess part of the reason is because there are just so many reviews out there and books to be read that I don't want to spend a ton of time on something that doesn't grab me that much. I do however, love reading about ARCs so I have an idea of what is coming up and what I should be on the lookout for!

Robin Brande said...

Thanks for starting this discussion, Trish. I've already sent it on to a bunch of my author friends, and we're having our own side discussion about it!

It's really valuable for us to hear what you all think about the current state of ARCs and requests for reviews and blog tours, etc. Thanks for putting this out there so we can all understand how you're feeling.

Great post!

Trish said...

*Becky - I guess that's what it boils down to--I like to leave meaningful comments on people's blogs other than just "great review" and it gets more and more difficult to write meaingful comments when all the posts start sounding the same. I love the conversations that start within the comments or at least hearing people's opinions. I think I've been very lucky that way.

*Michelle - Oooh, Adichie has a new book! :) Can't wait! Giving attention to new books and authors is one of the great things about book blogging, but I think I've hit the saturation point in my own reading and blogging.

*Mari - You guys are making some great points about the comments and I really agree (tapping head thinking--why didn't I think of that point!) :) I definitely don't think people should stop requesting ARCs or limit themselves if that is what they prefer. I think I just need to give myself permission not to try and comment on all of the posts.

*Chris - That Shelf Awareness has some tempting books! I had to cancel my subscription because I wanted them all but found myself getting overwhelmed. But I still prefer reading about the older books and I know you've got some great ones on your shelf (I love reading your reviews on classics!).

*Melody - Since I can't afford to buy new books, I'm not as interested in the ARC reviews as I am books that I can find used or for cheap. Comparing opinions is a great thing--one of the reasons why I love it here so much. Such diversity!

*Kristie - It's fun to stay current and up-to-date on books. I always get a thrill out of seeing a book in the bookstore that I read early. Although it seems that many of the ARCs never pick up the steam they sometimes deserve.

*Robin - Thanks for coming by and commenting. I'd love to hear what the other side things about the discussion. Good news is that we're all very interested in books and no one's going anywhere!

Melissa said...

Nice post, Trish!

I have received one ARC in my two-plus months of blogging. I don't really seek them out, but am happy to accept those that would be of interest to me. I have yet to request any kind of book to review--if I want to read it, I'll just buy it. In some respects, I'm kind of with you--I like reading reviews of books that are out there and I can get my hands on immediately if I want to. That is actually primarily what I started my blog to do--review my favorite books that I've read over the years and find along the way.

As for guest posts and interviews, I'll be honest. I have never read ONE guest post out of all the ones I've seen cycle through my Reader. I will occasionally read interviews if they are about an author I am interested in, or if it appears the questions and answers are well thought out. I have posted one interview, and it was for an author who is relatively obscure, so I wanted to give her more exposure. There were a few comments left on that post, so I feel like I did accomplish something with it. I'll be doing another interview within the next couple of weeks with Julie Lessman, a Christian fiction author I discovered recently. Since I don't read too much Christian Fiction, I thought it might be a nice feature for something different. Who knows? :-)

I've rambled on enough now, just thought I'd throw my 2 cents in there!

Anonymous said...

I don't get tons of ARC's thrown my way, just the occasional bone from the lovely Kodansha, Inc, and those from tours I participate in. So, I can't meaningfully comment on your question except to say that I always prefer reading what I want to read and not what I feel obligated to read. There's too much obligation in life to turn one's pleasure in that direction. Maybe that's why I don't have a lot of ARC's? ;)

Richard said...

I'm not recommending this as a course of action to anyone, Trish, but I'd personally be ecstatic if people stopped reviewing *all* ARCs on their blogs! Great new books are coming out all the time, of course, but how boring to read about the same 5-10 titles each month when there's literally hundreds of years of literature we could be talking about instead. Bloggers can and do mix and match new and old novels in their reviews, but this constant search for freebies and/or the flavor of the month has ruined many a U.S. blog to my way of thinking (for whatever reason, other countries' lit blogs seem more "self-reliant" in their choice of review material). This may be a minority opinion coming from someone who's not part of the promo bandwagon, but I'd prefer that people stuck to reviewing books they already own or were motivated enough to track down at the library.

Literary Feline said...

Trish, I would have responded sooner, but I just got home and didn't see your response to my comment before now. Please don't think you offended me. You didn't. Not at all. You were very eloquent in expressing your opinion. There have been a number of posts I've come across recently on this topic and so it's been on my mind lately too.

I respect that we each have our own opinions on this topic. There are so many blogs out there that we can all find ones that are good fits for each of us.

Dar said...

There certainly does seem to be an increased amount of interest lately in who's getting arc's or whether or not a blogger is a good one that seems to like all books.

YOu know before I started my blog I never knew what an arc was. I didn't even have any idea how to run a blog. I didn't know publishers sent books out to people. I have asked for very few books and if I have it is from an author of whom I'd really like to read their book. I've been approached by many publishers, etc. though. I do like doing book tours and guest posts and the such. If people don't want to read them, that's ok too. I enjoy the hub hub of doing it all even when I sometimes get overwhelmed. That being said I don't accept books whether for book tours, from publishers or authors that I don't feel I will like. It defeats the purpose of me enjoying what I'm doing.

Which leads me to another thing. What is so bad about a book reviewer looking for the positive in a book and writing about it? I don't do it to receive more books. At this point I have enough books to last a life time. If a book isn't for me I mention it but for the most part I always find something I've liked about a book I've read. If I can't, then that book isn't ever making it to my blog so that it can be reviewed badly. Does that makes sense? If that also makes people not read my reviews, then again that's their choice but I guess I get the feeling that if people are only writing good reviews they're doing it only to get books. That doesn't hold true for everyone out there. Ok, I know we weren't supposed to go there but I did anyway.

Now on to guest posts and the whole pile of reviews you can see on the same book. I do guest posts and I don't always read them unless it's an author I'm interested in. I do however like reading the reviews on blog tours because to me it's almost like a book club with everyone discussing what they liked or didn't like. On the blogs I read regularly, yes I do like to support them in whatever they decide to take on whether it be author interviews, guest posts or blog tours.

I think the blogging world will continue to change. It has to-everything does. I don't mind that. I love reading all the new books out there. Do I miss reading all mine-sure I do but I'll get back to them. Right now I'm enjoying the excitement of keeping my blog busy and I would hope that people come to my blog because of me and not only what I'm writing if in fact it's not completely their thing-eg. guest posts, etc.

Boy Trish, you sure do know how to get people going don't you-that's the one of the things I love about your posts. Well it's been great fun but now I'm off to write one of those blog tour reviews. lol.

Chris said...

Oh Trish, I know just how you feel. I had just emailed Debi and was telling her how I miss the days when blogging was just for fun for everyone. I feel like it still is for me and I think it is for a lot of people...but it has become almost commercial in a way and that really is sad :(

I do accept ARCs every now and then, but I tend to pick the kind of books that I would read anyway. I don't accept every ARC that's offered to me because I know I wouldn't read them all! I did when they first started becoming available to bloggers and then quickly learned my lesson as I wouldn't ever read them :p I think it's all about trying to find a balance and sticking to what you love. You have to blog because you love it and you love the people...that's my opinion!

Lisa said...

There's the word I've been missing when I think about it: Commercial. The blogs are becoming less personal and more commercial. Ads don't bother in the least, but this ARC thing does.

Amy said...

Well I guess I'm in the minority, because by accepting review copies (very few actual ARCs I mostly get finished copies) I have REALLY expanded my reading horizons. And you know what? A book doesn't have to be an ARC or review copy to see a million reviews of it....I think one thing accepting review copies does is help us recognize small presses and books we might have missed because we were reading the millionth review of Twilight or Graveyard Book or whatever. I have learned so much about so many other authors and books than I would have otherwise. I think book blogging does help even the playing field just a little for some authors and publishers.

And yes, I spend time trying to figure out how to attract people to my blog. I know that's an unpopular thing to say, but it's not to sell books, but rather to invite and keep the conversation about books going.

I just the blogs you want. And ignore the ones that seem like a commercial to you, you know?

And I'd like to say that if I didn't review books, I might still be reading the same stuff in the same rut and so I'm thankful for how it's challenged and changed me.

Holly said...

Wow Trish! What a really great conversation! And not offensive in any way.

I will admit I'm an ARC junkie. Mostly, it's the lure of FREE books. It's funny, but the novelty of it is starting to wear off a bit for me now that my TBR pile has reached epic proportions. I was one of those bloggers that kept wondering how DO people get all those free books to review? And then I found Shelf Awareness and gained a few publishing contacts and figured out how to get more ARCs.

In some ways, ARCs really excite me because it's fun to get a book I'm really interested in before everyone else and get my thoughts out there. But as everyone else says, I now have a few books on my shelf that I'm less than excited about and know that I really do need to get to them soon.

I am a very eclectic reader and I put quite a bit of thought into the order in which I read my books and try to read an ARC, then a YA adult book from my shelf, then a nonfiction, then a lit fiction book, then cozy mystery etc. I don't have a specific order, but I try to switch things up so I'm not just reviewing ARCS or just kids books or whatever.

Being a stay at home mom, I've found book blogging has become my "psuedo-job" in my mind. I sort of like the responsibility I feel to the book blogging world to share my thoughts on these books (ARCs included) because it gives me something concrete outside my kids and household to focus on. Book blogging came into my life when I really needed to have something that was just mine to think about and didn't relate to cleaning, cooking, or child-rearing. An escape, if you will! ;-)

Oh, and in relation to someone's comment about book bloggers only reading the ARC reviews and are we really reaching the greater audience...I post reviews or a link to my book blog review on LibraryThing, GoodReads, and if I REALLY REALLY liked a book, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I feel a responsibility to "spread the word" on other sites than just my blog. Perhaps that's what the publisher is hoping for when they send out an ARC? That book bloggers will talk about the book in other forums than just their blogs?

Anyway, Trish, thank you for such interesting food for thought this morning!

joanna said...

Great post Trish and interesting discussion (which I'm joining very late...).

I have to admit that I don't read many ARC reviews - by the time these ARCs are released in paperback and are available to me here in Belgium I'll have forgotten about the review anyway! ;-) I seek out posts on books I've read or would like to read, like many other bloggers.

I'm also not a big fan of guest posts and interviews, unless it's an author I know and like.

Having said that, I wouldn't want everyone to stop doing these things. Obviously (or I hope) the bloggers who participate in these activities enjoy doing so and I'm sure that other bloggers are interested, at least from time to time. I do enjoy scrolling through posts and always finding something that interests me, the variety is part of the beauty of our community, I think. But I wouldn't consistently a blog where these activities are in the majority of posts.

On accepting ARCs, I don't think it's for me either - I read by mood too and I have shelves and shelves of books for every mood and occasion. Knowing that I MUST read something and review it because that was the deal would put pressure on my reading and I don't want that.

Trish said...

*Melissa - Thanks for your input. I have found a few guest post to be interesting, but I normally don't have time to read them either. Seems like a lot of bloggers aren't seeking out these types of posts either.

*Bellezza - I want to read what I want to read, too. Life IS too short! :) Thanks for coming by and saying hi, my dear. :)

*Richard - Interesting observation about US bloggers versus bloggers from other countries. I do know of some International bloggers who do receive a fair amount of ARCs, but I know there has been a lot of feedback lately about authors not making books available to those outside of the US. I'd personally like to see more reviews of books i can get my hands on easily as well, but I wouldn't want anyone to stop what they love doing.

*Wendy - I'm convinced I live under a rock. :) Maybe because I don't twitter and miss out on some of these conversations via that connection. There have been some very very interesting answers and I appreciate everyone's opinion. I'm beginning to think that I just need to stick to what I love--BOOKS! :D

*Dar - I'm not even really all that interested in whose getting the review copies and who isn't. I don't feel bad that I don't, mostly because I know I don't do the work to get them. I know advanced reviewers have worked really hard at making connections with different publishers or publicists. I've answered a lot of your questions about positivity in my email to you, but for the sake of those who are reading all the comments, I think that overly positive reviews is mostly a thing of the past--something that has been amended when ARCs first started making their rounds a year ago and reviewers didn't know how to handle feelings of negativity.

Honestly Dar--I didn't realize that this discussion would cause so much contention between the various opinions. I don't like conflict and I probably won't start a discussion like this again. :(

*Chris - What did happen to those good ole days?? I agree that blogging has become more commercial, but I'm coming to realize that we don't have to go that route if we don't want. I think in the next few months I'm going to concentrate on getting back to the basics. Letting all this rubbish go and just focus on what I'm here for--Books!

*Lisa - Commercial. Something that irks me is when people have ads on their google reader feed. Why??? If it is on the person's blog chances are I never ever see the ads, but when it's on my google reader I can't help but focus on it.

*Amy - You are absolutely right that even without ARCs we tend to read the same books. But as Lisa pointed out in the comments above, we're reading these books--the Twilight and Book Thief and Hunger Games because we read rave reviews about them from other bloggers, not because we are all receiving free copies. I think it is awesome that you are out of your rut and have broadened your reading horizons. That's one of the top reasons why I blog, too. :)

*Holly - LOL, I understand the excitment of reading a book before everyone else! And I think we are reaching the greater audience without realizing it. Anytime a person googles X book, they'll hit your blog.

*Joanna - I hope people don't stop doing what they love doing just because of a conversation. I think we all need to find our passion and go with it. Interesting thoughts about reading ARC reviews months and months before you'll get the published book in Belgium--definitely something for American and Canadian folks to think about.

Heather J. said...

Wow, I am REALLY late here! I don’t get online over the weekends though, so that’s my excuse. 
Just a few thoughts to throw out there …

• I do accept ARCs but many fewer now than I used to. Reading was becoming “work” instead of “fun” and I’m working on getting the balance right again.

• If I see LOTS of reviews of the same book, I usually start skipping over them.

• If someone reviews a classic book, or something I’ve never heard of, or something I’ve read or wanted to read for a while, I pay more attention to that review. I’ll comment more often on those posts.

• Author interviews/guest posts CAN be interesting, but only if I’m already interested in their book or if they have something very interesting to say. Bart’s Bookshelf hosted an author recently who talked about the ongoing underwater excavation of Blackbeard’s pirate ship that I found fascinating.

• I do host authors on my blog from time to time and I very much enjoy it. I’d only be hosting them if I liked their book(s) so I quite enjoy the interaction it provides me. Hopefully a few other fans are enjoying it as well, but I do realize that not everyone is into it.

This was a GREAT discussion – thanks for getting it started.

SuziQoregon said...

Very interesting discussion (and I've now added you to my feed reader).

I don't really seek out ARCs, I've read and reviewed one through Bookbrowse and occasionally will put in a request if I think it's one I might be interested in, but that's rare. I don't like my reading to feel like an obligaion. Personally my ever growing TBR list is so extensive that I'm happy to let other folks I've learned to trust do the screening of ARCs for me.

For me, that's one of the great thing about the book blogging community. Over the three years I've been blogging I've discovered many folks with similar reading tastes to mine. I put more stock in their reviews whether or not those are ARC reviews. I love reading a reveiwer I trust rave about an upcoming book that lets me get on the waiting list at the library early.

I think it's the reading as an obligation thing that makes me less interested than others in ARCs. It's also why I've so drastically reduced my participation in reading challenges. This year I've gone back to being more spontaneous in my reading choices and I'm honestly enjoying it again.

As for your question about Author Interviews and Guest posts - I rarely read them. I also stop reading reviews after a handful of reviews of the same book. In my opinion, some blog tour books start seeming like google reader spam after they show up on so many blogs.

I think the book blogging community has become my primary source of recommendations. That applies to old books as well as the new and upcoming books.

Joanna K said...

Wow, what a great discussion!

As someone who works for a publisher (Annick Press), I'm on the other side of book blogging -- I'm the one hoping people will blog about our books.

Why? Because when I'm looking for a new book to read -- or wanting to find out more about a book I'm interested in -- I turn to friends, booksellers, and book bloggers. I want to know what other book lovers thought!

Part of my job is to help make good books. The other part is to help those good books end up with the readers they were written for. Sometimes I feel like a bit of a matchmaker!

I love seeing so many people sharing their thoughts on books they've read, not just with their friends and family, but with the wider book-reading community.

3M said...

I've thought of a few more things I'd like to add!

Yes, I'm still tired out from the read-a-thon. Now that I'm in my 40's, I just don't recover as easily as I did in my 20's and 30's!! I did finally put up a couple of reviews, but later than I wanted to.

I AM leery of a site that has all positive reviews. But, that said, I also trust the sites I love, like Literary Feline and a few others. It doesn't matter to me if they're mostly positive because I trust what they say. Others, not so much.

And, it bothers me when it is said that book bloggers really should be writing all positive reviews and that we owe it to the author/publisher to do so. Since when? I honestly rate most of the books I read around a 4 out of 5 or so, but there are a few stinkers that I've read and reviewed, and I'm not afraid of saying that I didn't like the book.

I know I appreciate the bad reviews of movies I see online so I don't waste my time seeing something I won't like. Books are no different.

Violet said...

I am okay with ARC's. But the problem begins when I see reviews for the same book about 20 times on the same day. I know it's part of a blog tour, but please, there is a thing called overexposure.

For e.g today I have seen way too many reviews on Follow me. I am sure it's a great book, but I won't buy it because I have read just too much about it. May be if the publishers or publicists space out the reviews I would be more receptive.

Anonymous said...

I've not received any ARCs before and I'm fine with that. ^-^ Sure, free books are great, but they do have to be books I'd want to read, and those I'd have wound up buying anyhow. And, on top of that, I'd have to get Dutch books, probably, and I have Issues reading my native language. I'll stick to those books I enjoyed as a child and wish I could share with others who don't read Dutch. They're books that were important to me growing up.

If there are a lot of reviews on a single book, I'd at least skim a review (preferably of a person whose tastes I know a little) to see if it sounds interesting. If it does, I might read a few more reviews by others. If it doesn't... I might read one or two more by friends, but other than that I'm skipping the lot. This applies to non-ARC books as well, though.

I don't really read guest posts or author interviews either, but that's likely because the guest posts and interviews I've seen are all of/by authors I don't know.

I think Literary Feline already made all the points I could possibly hope to make, actually... And more eloquently than I could to boot! (Yes, I'm half-commenting as I read.)

When I read a blog, I read it as much for the person writing it as I do for the book reviews. My own blog isn't strictly about the books I read either. There's a lot of myself in it too and I don't ever want to lose that. (This also ties in with why I review Dutch books most people I suspect reading my blog will never have a chance to read, due to linguistic barriers: they're books that are a part of me.)

I don't generally pay attention to whether a book is an ARC or not. It's the content (and the blogger) I care about, not whether the book is available yet or not. The only difference for me is, as Becky said, that there's less to say on a book you haven't read.

This is coming a little late in the comment now, but, Trish, I don't think your post implies that ARCs are bad (and I understand your worry that people might take it as such! I'd be fearing the same thing if this were my post!) But... Please don't worry too much about that. Please? Because I don't think there's anything that could be taken as offensive in your post unless someone is really really looking to do that, and they'd find a reason to feel such no matter what you say. :(

I had a point beyond this, but I lost it having to break up the cats. I have no idea what's got into them today.

I jumped into the discussion late, but I do hope I've managed to say something half-way sensible. ^-^ I love seeing opinions on books I know (or books I might be interested in). Very few people in my immediate surroundings share my tastes, so blogging for me is a way to connect to others as much as it is about the books themselves.

Fyrefly said...

I'm definitely still a little burnt out after the read-a-thon... you're not alone!

I get offered and accept a fair number of ARCs. I'd say about half of what I accept (or that I ask for) are books I'd have picked up and read anyways, and the other half are books that I decide to take the chance on because they sound interesting. I've had a few I wasn't crazy about, but on the whole they've definitely expanded my reading horizons - my favorites have been from smaller publishers, from debut authors, or in genre markets.

I definitely think that there gets to be ARC saturation. I can see the marketing strategy behind the big name publishers sending tons of copies to bloggers to generate buzz, or behind authors paying for blog tours, but at least in my case, it backfires more often than not. My feed reader is so swamped that if I see more than one post for a book in the space of a few days, I'm not going to read *any* of the posts.

My favorite thing about book blogs is that they point out to me books that I might enjoy that I'd missed, books that I'd never heard of... so I will often mostly ignore something that's getting a ton of buzz, whether it's the current Big Thing, or something that publishers are trying to turn into the Next Big Thing.

Debi said...

Whew, girl, but you got one enormous pile of comments here. So I'm just going to apologize for probably repeating what others have said because I'm afraid I just don't have time to read all those comments right now. :(

Anyway, I have to admit when I first started getting offered review copies, I was thrilled. But it got old really fast! Even from the beginning I was picky about what I accepted, but it still got overwhelming way too fast. Now, I know many people could have read the amount of ARCs I accepted in a few weeks time, but in a good month, I only get maybe ten books read (okay, that's a REALLY good month for me!). And I decided that I didn't want my choices of what those few books would be to be dictated by what books I needed to get reviewed. I'm bad enough when it comes to challenges, but at least when I don't finish those books the only person I'm letting down is myself. And it's not even that I didn't like the review books I did accept, because I usually did. But there was just something about it feeling like an "obligation" that took away a little of the fun.

Okay, so that's why I don't accept ARCs. But I do enjoy reading reviews about them by other people. But you know what...I think they're the same people I'd read any review they wrote. Did that make sense? In other words, I think I read blogs where I feel a connection to the person. And then I generally enjoy every review they write, even if it isn't a book I'd probably ever read. Anyway, I don't actually get out there much in the big wide book blogging world as a whole, but if I did, I suppose I would get tired of reading twenty reviews of the same ARC. But I can tell you that more than one book has made its way to my shelves because of someone's ARC review.

Yeah, I pretty much said "nothing" for several paragraphs there, didn't I? Oh well, you're so sweet that I know you'll forgive me. Good thing, as you have to forgive me fairly often. :)

Debi said...

And Trish, how's Lexi doing? I do hope she's okay!!!! Poor sweeties! (Both of you, that is.)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

There really has been a lot of conversation lately about the "act of blogging" and I wonder what that says about our comfort levels lately. It seems as though that a lot of people are either getting burned out or frusturated or are being made to feel guilty for the way in which they blog and the reasons they do so. To tell you the truth, I'm just not sure how to comment on all of these posts lately. Having said that, I apoligize in advance for this incredibly lengthy comment. You asked a lot of questions, and it ends up that I still have a lot to say about it. And I'll also preface this with the thought that everybody should blog for the reasons that they want to blog. If you're happy what else matters. Why worry about what everybody else is doing? Be true to yourself.

To give my thoughts on some of the questions that you raised. Do I read all the ARC posts, author interviews and guest posts? No. But I defintly read the ones that I have an interest in. In fact, I rarely read anything in my reader unless it interests me. Call me selfish with my time, but I just can't read it all. I would LOVE to if I could. I don't read all the posts on the same book but if I've read that book then I am very likely to read all of them because I love to see how our opionins are either shared or differ. Yes, I am leary of bloggers who seem to only review books from one publisher. No, I don't enter all giveaways.

Yes, I read a lot of ARC's. And it's something I'm not going to apologize for. I certainly don't read as much as other people do, but I have a pretty tall stack at the moment. Of those, I have only sought out titles for about 3-4 ARC's. It's not like I'm selfishly going seeking out a free book (the time I put into my blog & reviews is not worth one free book - it's cheaper for me to just buy the book) but my reading has been so enriched and diversified by accepting the ARC's that I do review that I would be really sad to have missed them. Would I have discovered these gems in some other way? Maybe, maybe not. But I do like them (with the occasional dud of a book). And I try to read those review books that other people aren't talking about so much. And I rarely even state in my post if a book is given to me for review that I hope only those savvy enough even realize that it's an ARC. I review what I read, pure and simple and try not to discern between review books and non-review books.

I'd like to think that I'm reviewing a large enough mix between books from the library, my own bookshelf and review copies that my blog is varied and that you'll find me talking about books not talked about elsewhere. And I think that's the key. Your blog should be uniquely yours, not a showcase for a particular publisher.

I LOVE doing author interviews. Even if nobody else read them, I love interacting with the author. It's a very personal satisfaction for me. And I love to give authors a place to do a guest post if they want. If it promotes the love of reading, books and literacy then why should it be boo hood.

What all of these questions really come back to is: why do you blog? The answer to that question pretty much will determine your opinion on these issues. I don't blog just to record my reading log. I never have. I'm blogging to foster community among book lovers, promote the love of reading, good books and authors. I hope to create excitement and get people thinking about books and literacy. I work hard in my meager attempt to do all of that. ARC's, author interviews. tours and guest posts help me do that and I'll continue to do so.

On to the whole publisher/book blogger influence thing (as if this comment isn't long enough already LOL). I am going to be on a panel in the next month to talk about this very thing. And I'm very excited about it. I'm very excited that publishers, authors, and book bloggers are beginning to work together and discuss these issues together instead of us each floundering on our own sides.

Absolutely not, bloggers are not the end of the line. For publishers to reach out to a mere few thousand bloggers would be a very poor business model if our influence was only limited to our own personal TBR piles. In a time of folding newspapers and more internet savvy readers, people are turning to online sources for their book recommendations. Sure, book bloggers are not the only source of online book recommendations. But we are a portion of it.

Publishers are reaching out to bloggers in part for the ripple effect. A blogger reads a review, buys the book, reviews it, another person reads that review, recommends it to a neighbor, who reads it and then recommends it to her book club and they all go out and read it and then tell all of their friends, family and neighbors about it. The cycle goes on. This cycle just happened with the title that our book club is reading right now. I can see this ripple effect happening right before my eyes. Bloggers can create buzz. And people pay attention to that buzz. Look at the Cybils. That's huge influence taken straight from blogs into bookstores, libraries, and schools. Also, take a look at the back of the paperback of Audrey, Wait. If that's not influence I don't know what is. Many authors have contributed part of their success to book bloggers as well. And yes, the Google effect helps as well. I won't deny that either.

I do think that publishers need to give back a little as well. We do drive a lot of readers to their books and in return it would be nice if they drove traffic to our sites as well. It's a continually involving thing and a entirely different issue.

Long story short: be true to yourself and the reasons that you want to blog. Ignore the rest.

Anyways, sorry for such a long comment. I should have just done a post on my own blog but at the same time I don't think we need another post right now either. You know I love you Trish, so I'm sorry for getting up on my soapbox and using your blog space to do that.

pussreboots said...

I read a large number of books sent to me for review. They aren't all ARCs but most of them are by lesser known authors and lesser known publishing houses. Some of them are self published. I like it this way. I get learn more about books and authors I might not otherwise know about and I get to give a little exposure to them via my blog.

I don't do author interviews or book tours because I can't commit the time to either right now. Frankly I don't read many book tour posts or author interviews unless it's an author I'm already interested in.

I also review books from my own collection, my kids' collection and the local library. I try to keep the books sent for review to no more than two a week and no fewer than one a week.

Jeanne said...

I agree with almost everything Natasha said, especially the part about it being important to review a variety of books, for a variety of sources. I think every book blogger wants to promote a love of reading.

And that's where I disagree with Natasha, just a little bit. Maybe there are folks who blog only to keep a journal of their reading. But I think some folks who might seem that way are actually contrary and independent people who care less about the book blogging community than Natasha does (not hard!), and more about promoting certain kinds of writing.

Terri B. said...

Oh Trish! I certainly hope this week is a better week for you!

The only ARCs program I'm really interested in is the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. First, I can choose which books to ask for and second, I like that I'm going through a third party and not directly through the author or publisher. I feel as though I can give a much more honest review that way. I've been thinking about this whole topic myself a bit, and I'd really prefer to read the books I'm interested in reading. I don't mind an occasional foray into what I consider a marketing tactic by publishers and authors, but I don't want to give up too much of my own preferred reading to do it.

Trish said...

*Heather - Reading should be fun!! :) I was feeling too much obligation under ARCs as well. And I agree that you should stick with what you enjoy doing--reading reviews, posting reviews, reading ARCs or none of the above. I think we should all be in this for ourselves at least to some degree.

*SuziQ - LOL--thanks for subscribing. I'm afraid I'm usually terribly boring. :) I agree that there are some bloggers that I've come to really trust and value their opinion. My personal library has grown tenfold thanks to all the great bloggers here.

*Joanna K - A matchmaker is a great way to put it and I wish sometimes that other publishers and publicists were more careful with who they grouped their ARCs with. I think it would alleviate some of the negativity surrounding our feelings on ARCs? But this blogosphere is so wonderful--I wouldn't be here if it wasn't.

*Michelle - Thanks for coming back. :) I agree that I trust certain reviewers whose reviews I've been reading for a year plus. Wendy is certainly one of them--I've picked up some great books on her recommendation and will continue to do so. I do NOT think we owe anyone a positive review if our feelings are not completely positive. There is nothing wrong with a little negativity as long as it is done respectfully.

*Violet - LOL--yup, that Follow Me books is everywhere today! I think reviews should be spaced out instead of all one day, but I guess it's all what the publisher is aiming for?

*Libritouches - LOL--I read comments and respond at the same time as well. :) I read reviews for the person writing as well. I've come to think of many bloggers as my friends and wouldn't have it any other way. Interesting notes about the Dutch books--although there are some publishers sending overseas, I believe. And thanks for the affirmation about the post not being negative. I did NOT mean it as such! I have to ask...if you're reading...what does ^-^ mean? :)

*Fyrefly - I think if publishers are trying to reach bloggers as an audience the method of flooding the blogosphere is definitely backfiring, but I don't think we are the end of the line. I think they're hoping for the google searches. I know most of my "viewers" come from google searches rather than people who are subscribing to my blog.

*Debi - Your comment makes perfect sense and I read for the connection as well. You and I don't always read the same things, but I love love love the passion in your reviews (and I've been missing you this week!). I don't have anything to forgive you of, but I'll send you a big hug instead. How bout that? Lexi is doing much much better. We got her some medicine and it seems to have done the trick. thanks for your thoughts. :)

*Natasha - LOL! Don't worry about the soapbox. :) I appreciate your feedback and you've definitely given a lot of different perspectives for people to think about. Why people blog is a key part of the question and it's one that I've been trying to keep in perspective the past few weeks. I don't think I'd give it up, but I do think it's time for me to step back and get return to the basics of blogging. I don't have the energy or the insight or even anything interesting enough to reach the masses like you do, and I admire you for your tenacity. Honestly, all of these conversations lately have been wearing me down. :(

*Pussreboots - Pretty admirable to keep your review copies waiting only a week or two. I couldn't keep up like you so I felt it was better not to take any more in. I've loved getting to know books and authors through blogging that I wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

*Jeanne - I'd love to know more what you mean about bloggers who claim just to be keeping a journal. I'm not sure that I'm following (or maybe I've just read too much about ARCs the past 24 hours!!). Promoting the love of reading is really important to me and I love finding that in other bloggers.

*Terri - Already better. :) I'm taking a much needed vacation to Salt Lake this weekend to visit my grandmother, so this week should be pretty harmless. I definitely prefer going through third parties as well, but I have found most authors to be very friendly and eager. I don't like giving up my own preferred reading either!!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Oh phew! Thanks Trish! I do think why we blog is the key question. Bloggers need to respect other bloggers reasons for blogging. Seems we are all questioning each other right now and that's just not right. We are all so different & varied with different end goals in mind. Do what's best for you and don't worry about what everybody else is doing.

BTW - You're going to be in Salt Lake City this weekend?! Let me know if you can squeeze in a lunch or dinner. I'd be happy to come down to Provo (Provo right?). If you're to busy, I understand, but I'd love to meet you!

Jeanette said...

Great post, great thoughts and great responses Trish.
This will probably sound very much like what many others have said but here are some of my thoughts. I've actually only ever accepted one ARC and it never even showed up. Oh well. I don't blog for free books or money so I just read and review what I want, when I want. I tend to go through phases of interest in my reading, like right now I am really into mid 20th century writers, and so don't want to get tied down to other people's schedules of when I should read and post because then my interests get set aside.
Today I noticed that my feed reader was filled with reviews of two particular books. I did not read a single review of either book. I don't know exactly why, but seeing the same title on everyone's blog just turns me off from wanting to read about it. Maybe because I know it is not a book they discovered and want to share but one they were asked to share. But then I wonder if that should matter? (now I am just confusing myself.) :-)
I have come across blogs that pretty much exclusively review ARCs and I don't usually read their reviews because 9 times out of 10 I am not interested in the books. But I do have to admit that when I am browsing the library I will often recognize the titles I've seen all over the blogosphere and sometimes I am drawn to looking at the book because of that.
I never read author interviews or guest posts. I am so busy with kids and life that when I do have time to read blogs I just have no interest in reading those kinds of posts. But that is just me. We all have our own unique blogs and reasons for blogging, like another commenter said, and I think that is a good thing.
Did any of that make sense?

mike said...

Never really got ARC offers. So commenting on the topic might be out of point for me. However, i enjoyed reading some of your posts for example the old post on Chimamanda's "Half of a Yellow Sun". Nice blog though!!

Wendy said...

I wanted to jump back into the conversation because I keep seeing comments about ARCs that imply that readers are not getting to choose the books they read, or that they are only posting reviews of ARCs because they were asked to share them and not because they WANTED to share them.

I accept a lot of ARCs, but only the ones I WANT to read and review. I am not reading any books that I have not specifically chosen to read. This is no different then me going to the bookstore and buying a bestseller that everyone else is reading, except that in the case of an ARC I don't have to buy it.

No publisher or author is sending me boxes of unsolicited books. I turn down many requests for book reviews because the book doesn't appeal to me. I only request books from Library Thing or Shelf Awareness or some of my publicist contacts that have caught my eye and I want to read.

Book tours are not about bloggers being forced to read and review a book. Yes, the sponsor of the tour is asking for a review by a certain date, but all that does is maybe move the book up in my pile. I would have read and reviewed it anyway.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I accept ARCs, and now that I think about it, they have made up about half of the books I've read so far this year. Except occasionally on Shelf Awareness and LT, I rarely request review books. Most of the ARCs I get are from offers for tours, or from authors or publishers. I only accept books which look good and I think I'll enjoy. It doesn't do me or the author any good to read a book I probably won't like just because it's free.

On positive reviews...most of my reviews are positive and most fall in the 3 to 4 star range. But, that is because I can usually tell if I'll enjoy a book or not. Once again, I don't have any problem turning a book down if it's not my cup of tea.

I do participate in book tours and guest posts, and really enjoy them. On the other hand, I often find myself skimming other guest posts and interviews. If it's an author I like or a book I've read I'll read them, but otherwise they aren't my favorite posts. One of my favorite things about the tours is seeing everyone's opinions on the book. It's kind of like a book club. Books that have a ton of posts can be overwhelming if you haven't read the book or aren't interested in it.

I try to balance my ARCs with books from my own TBR, otherwise I'd never get to them. :) I do like having a mix of new books and some older ones. I think the comments I get on older book reviews are usually more substantial. There is a better chance that others have read the book compared to an ARC, and I like the discussion aspect of this.

Like Natasha said, I think it does all come down to why you are blogging. I blog because I *love* books and don't have any IRL friends that read much. This is the place I come to discuss books and to find out about great books I'd never heard of before. Blogging takes a lot more time than I thought it would and every once in a while I need to step back and bit and take a breather from it.

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Anonymous said...

^-^ (or ^_^ or ^^, depending on the person typing) is a Japanese-style smiley. Basically it's the same as :), but then rotated right. The :) smiley tends to give me the creeps, actually, so I don't use it.

Mmm... It's interesting that they do send things overseas sometimes, really. I'd imagine that's a lot less cost-effective as keeping things in their own country. But then I don't get along with finances very well, so I might be completely off.

In response to something Jeanette said. I think that, while it shouldn't matter whether there are a lot of reviews of a book out there, it often does matter. How much it matters is up to the individual, though. Personally, I'm less likely to pick up a book I hear about a lot because of that. It just feels like the world is pushing that particular book at me, and it could be the book that will end up being the one I love most of all books I've ever read all it wants, but I'll avoid it like the plague while people talk about it a lot. Purely and solely because I hate that feeling.

I might pick up the books later, though, when the hype has died down a bit (or a lot). *rambles on*

Jeane said...

What an interesting discussion. I used to long to get ARCs, and accepted a few, but then realized I have way too many books on hand that I want to read. Lately I've been turning them down- and gotten more offers than I ever did before, which kind of confuses me. I always skip over guest posts and author interviews- it's just that I only have so much time to read in a day, and reading review posts cuts enough into my reading books time! If I really want to know that much more about an author, I'll look for their website. And I've only done that once.

C. B. James said...

Gosh you have been busy here. I'm very late to the game, but I do have a few things to add.

I was so excited to get my first ARC/blog tour that I set up an author interview. I had so much fun writing back and forth with the author that I ended up making it a two-part interview. Then the second ARC/blog tour came along and I set up an interview only to end up not liking the book much at all and feeling kind of guilty about the whole thing.

I'm not exactly turning away large numbers of free books, but I only ask for ones that really interest me now.

I still enjoy doing author interviews. They get very few hits, to be honest, but I like doing them. I take the time to research the author and read as much of their stuff as I can before I send off my questions. (I don't like reading boilerplate type interviews.) Most of the authors I've interviewed are not that famouse so they are very please to have someone who has read so much of their stuff ask some questions. The one famous author I interviewed sent back very short, almost terse, replies. (I won't be reading her anymore.) I'll keep doing interviews when I find an author I'm excited about.

I hope you'll keep doing this for a long time, because I enjoy reading your blog.

60 plus hits and you didn't have to give away a book or anything. I am in awe of you.