Sunday, March 14, 2010
Sunday Salon: Do you fall for the hype?
First things first. Did I send you a template for With Reverent Hands? Did you send it back to me? If not, please do so! I have none in my arsenal to post in future!
I recently commented on Twitter that there were many blog posts this week all surrounding the book Raven Stole the Moon, by Garth Stein. When I say many, I mean many. I am not sure if I just follow all the blogs who participated in the Garth Stein tour, but I don't think I'd be exaggerating to say that for at least five days of the past week, I would see upwards of five blog posts a day around that book- either reviews or giveaways.
For me, it got old really fast.
I know that I said previously that it is only when bloggers come together and form a collective force that we have any true impact in the reading world. But I also don't like the feeling that publicists or publishers can herd us like sheep and have us read and review books just because they want us to. I don't like that artificial hype can be created around a book solely by a blog tour being arranged, that hits you over the head with the book over and over again, dozens of times in the same week.
I am sure that blog tours are very successful. Obviously, they must be, if so many exist. But when does it get to be too much? Is it fair to throw the same book at people multiple times in the hopes that it will stick? That maybe next time I go to the store, I'll think, "Wow, I've seen about twenty blog posts about this book in the past week, so it must be good and I should buy it"? I resent that implication- that if I hear the name of a book often enough, I'll go and read it. That I will fall for the hype generated not by the book or the story itself, but by a marketing ploy to put the book in front of my eyes.
I prefer the organic process of a book garnering attention. A book is written. It is good. People read it. They realize it's good. They tell other people about the book and how good it is. Those other people go out and read the book and think it's good. And they recommend it, too. So on and so forth, down the line. This process takes months. I understand that. And we live in a world that demands fast results. The organic method apparently doesn't work quickly enough. So books aren't given the time to develop the hype through word of mouth. They are rushed into readers' hands in advanced readers' copies and blog tours and giveaways and contests in the (desperate?) hope that that will be enough to boost sales and garner attention.
But, to me, that's not real. It's a lie. Just because a lot of people read a book at the same time, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good book. It means that everyone was sent a book for free and was told to review it on a very strict time line, and possibly to host a giveaway so that other people can also read and review the book, ASAP. And so if you were to just glance through your Google Reader, you might assume that the book is really famous and popular and excellent, but really... it's just because that's what the publicists or publishers want you to think.
I understand that book blogdom is coming of age. People are taking book blogs seriously and hoping that books get positive reviews on these sites. But more and more, I am becoming uncomfortable with the way that our blogs are being used. Yes, I like getting free books, but I don't like to feel as though I have unwittingly contributed to pushing a certain book on someone else. I don't like to feel that I have to review a certain book by a certain time so that everyone hears about it all at once. I prefer hearing about a book because a blogger wanted to pick that book up at that time, and wanted to read it. Not because she had to read it at that time to meet a deadline. I don't want books forced upon me in that way. I end up resenting the book (silly, I know, as it's an inanimate object). And I resent my blog being used in that manner. I want to read books when I feel like it, and review them when I want to. This is something I've been mulling over for quite some time recently, and for me, something needs to change.
I am not going to say that I will no longer receive any books to review. I participate in LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program and am also a member of Amazon Vine. And I want to support the small presses, too. But over the next several weeks, I am really going to take a hard look at my review policy and make some changes so that I feel more in control of my reading life.
Does this system bother you, or am I just a drama queen? Do you also feel that sometimes blogs are manipulated to create artificial hype? Do you like the blog tour system? Do you feel it's unfair to the smaller presses?