Sounds random, but it's somewhat related if you think of the Hype-Machine.
The past week the blogosphere had an interesting conversation about social reading, hype and over-promotion. The general consensus seemed to be that too much of anything is never good, and that constant talk, as positive as it may be, can be overwhelming and off-putting. To anyone who habitually reads review blogs or actively uses Twitter, it’s fairly evident that trending authors and books routinely take over these mediums and that the noise they generate can be louder than any other book talk simultaneously taking place. It only takes not being part of the buzz (whether because we disagree with the majority or because we aren’t familiar with the subject) to notice how annoying it can get. Yet, I’m sure we all have been guilty of doing it at least once. After all, it’s difficult not to talk about a book we feel passionate about, especially when we are in the business of talking about books.
Personally, hype only annoys me when I disagree with it, but there’s nothing I can do about it, except try to shift focus to other books and wait until it dies down. But as someone who mainly discovers books through social media and blogs, I think buzz and promotion are a necessary, and sometimes welcome, evil. However, it’s undeniable that at times only a few books get most of the attention to the point where blogland gets repetitive, even if it’s genuine excitement.
I am guilty of this. Go and take a look at my latest reviews, most are books by popular authors reviewed during release week (I’m sure that if you went blog-surfing last week, you experienced a bit of a Ruthie Knox overload). What all of those books have in common is that they were ARCs. Services like NetGalley and Edelweiss have made coveted new releases available to bloggers everywhere. It’s difficult to turn down the opportunity to read these books in favor of others that aren’t as new or as popular, not to mention that galleys are free. But because the ARCs are so accessible, we keep seeing the same books in every blog. I’ve also seen bloggers comment on the pressure of reviewing new releases and how popular books drive more traffic to their blogs.
The question is: should we expand our reading choices in order to diversify our reviews and do it to the detriment of the books generating buzz? The answer is no. We may review for readers, but we read for ourselves, so our reading choices should depend on what we feel like reading and nothing else. Besides, each reviewer offers a distinct voice and unique point of view, and over-reviewed books can still generate interesting conversations. As trendy as some books are, my wish list and TBR pile keeps growing and not just with popular books, so there are plenty of people reading, reviewing and recommending books that are far from mainstream.
Having said all that, and I’m about to contradict myself, so no need to point it out, I’m trying to read more books that are not getting as much attention, mostly because I want to discover the next hidden gem and win popular recognition. Just kidding! The truth is that I want to expand my reading horizons, and step out of my comfort zone, which has become very narrow and filled with contemporaries.
To wrap it up, social media and how it has transformed the way we discover books, word of mouth and fame, is an interesting phenomenon that’s in no way exclusive to our community. We’re still getting the hang of it, and we’re bound to make mistakes. But as long as we keep our honesty we should be fine. Real excitement is priceless, and I’m willing to bet it’s the main reason why we keep reading blogs and buying books because someone mentioned them on Twitter. My only piece of advice would be to keep the excitement close to release date, so that we can 1. appease the God of Instant Gratification, and 2. not have to deal with incessant talk for longer than necessary.