I have read that question in a post lately and it made me think: what is a book blog? What makes a book blog a proper one? To me, it has always been “a blog which refers to books”, but is it really enough to talk about books? Do you need to talk only about books to be a book blogger (if yes, then I am not)? More importantly, do you need to talk about books or do you need to review those books? When I read the question “Can you run a book blog with no book reviews?”, it definitely made me think. Can you? Let’s dive deep into that question in today’s discussion post.
What turns a blog into a book blog?
Is not a book blog a particular type of lifestyle blog? If yes, at what point do you start considering your lifestyle blog a “book blog”? Is it when you start talking only about books, or when you choose to publish one wrap up a month? Or is putting pictures of your last read books everywhere enough to call yourself a “book blogger”? I honestly do not think there is a “good answer” to any of those questions, but asking them is already a way to get ourselves thinking. Here are a few characteristics of a book blog to me, keeping in mind that the list does not have to be full for you to call your blog a “book blog”. These are characteristics that may put your blog into that category, you wanting it to fall into that category being more than enough already:
You publish a monthly wrap up.
You refer to your reading habits at least once a month.
You love recommending books to your readers.
You publish book reviews regularly.
You create discussion posts about books & literature.
If you do one of these 5 things, it is more than possible that your blog is actually a book blog. However, even though nobody really knows why, one of these things seems to have a greater importance: book reviews. If you never do a wrap up or hate discussion posts, most people will still consider your blog to be a book blog as long as it has reviews in it. It my opinion, that is quite a restrictive view of the definition, and I would thus like to discuss that topic with you.
Book reviews: an absolute necessity?
My experience with book reviews
I do wonder; when did we start connecting book blogs to book reviews? I remember a time when nobody wrote reviews as it was not a “popular” thing to do. We did refer to the books we were reading, but reviews were not as “trendy” as they are now. I feel like today, being able to write “[ARC]” or “Advanced Reader Copy” before a review screams “quality”. It means, indeed, that an author or a publisher sent you a copy of their book – usually for free – in exchange for an honest review. There are so many platforms that allow reviewers to connect with authors and publishers today, so it has become quite mandatory for book bloggers to become reviewers. However, it is complete nonsense to me.
I am a book blogger AND a reviewer. Nonetheless, at no point do I feel like these two things necessarily need to go together. You can, for instance, be a “chocolate cookies reviewer” and absolutely not a book blogger. I choose to review books because it is both my passion and a part of my job. However, and even though I love mixing the two, I really do separate in my head my reviewer’s job and my blog. You need to make sure you write only about what you are passionate about, and when I dislike a book, I do not feel the need to refer to it on my blog in order to “hit” the number of reviews people wait for me to write.
Economic concerns & feeling above writing
In my opinion, as long as you love books and want to talk about your passion, you are a book blogger. No matter how many views you get, or how many review opportunities you have. I do think there is too much of an “elite standard” in asking for book bloggers to publish reviews. Not all of us get opportunities and free books, and most of us need to work hard before getting to that point. Moreover, we are even fewer to be lucky enough to get paid for it – even though reviewing a book is a lot of work. That is why I am personally against the “norm” of needing book reviews on a book blog. Moreover, a lot of people actually love reading but hate writing about what they have just read. To them, it is a little bit like “killing” their feeling for the book by putting it into words. Thus, I do think once again that reviews must not be mandatory in a book blog.
I do hope today’s post had you think about the importance of book reviews in a book blog. You got it: I am not a big fan of saying that these reviews are mandatory. I am in love with reviewing books – once more, it is part of my job –, but I can’t feel at ease asking from other book bloggers to do it as well. Everyone should do what they feel comfortable with and, above all, what makes them happy. We run blogs for pleasure, even though they sometimes end up making us money. Let’s not put pressure on ourselves in the field of our passion. Do what feels great and label your blog the way you want. It is what you want it to be, you are the only one to choose.