I love book bloggers! I love book bloggers because of their passion, their hard work, their integrity, their sensibility and their support for authors; and I love book bloggers because I am part of that community as a book reviewer myself. But how did that community come about? Today, I’m touring the timeline of the book bloggers, from non-existent to a highly respected and powerful force in world publishing.
1990s: As a reader, you had probably never heard the word blog (web log) unless you were an IT techie. Then, your only source for book reviews was the media, who solely published reviews written by professional book reviewers. The result:
- A small, clique of professional book reviewers wielded a lot of power in the publishing world: they decided what was good writing and what wasn’t (and their tastes were fairly literary); and they decided what we, the readers, ought to be reading (unsurprisingly, fairly literary books).
- Both publishers and authors had to impress this small group of readers, or new releases would get precious little coverage and poor sales.
2000–2005: Right at the turn of the millennium, developers launched blogging platforms, like Blogger, aimed at regular people, and within five years blogs were gaining interest and credibility, and the role of the book blogger was created. Initially, readers used blogs focused on books simply as a means to journal their reading experiences and to recommend books those friends following their blogs may enjoy. But then the first authors connected to the first book bloggers; the first review requests were made and accepted; the first targeted reviews were created. A quiet revolution had begun, and it gained momentum until…
2005–to date: A community formed! It went something like this.
- More readers discovered book blogs.
- More readers began book blogs.
- More book bloggers discovered each other, and connected.
- More authors and publishers discovered book blogs.
- More book bloggers received an increasing number of manuscripts for reviews.
- More book reviews were published, more widely!
- Book blogs became more sophisticated.
- Platforms geared to supporting book bloggers, such as Goodreads, were developed and flooded with members.
At the same time, self-publishing had come onto the scene, and by 2008, for the first time in history, more books were independently published than traditionally. In 2009, more than three quarters of all books released were self-published, and publishing houses began to decrease the number of books they published. Independent bloggers and independent authors found a natural affinity, and some of the first self-publishing sensations to hit the headlines owed their success in large measure to the support of the book bloggers; Amanda Hocking, for example, who was averaging 9,000 sales of her self-publishing books per day in 2011 on Amazon, was very open about the bloggers who had supported her. Book bloggers were suddenly famous: a known entity. And it was abundantly clear that as a group they wielded a great deal of power.
- A wide community of book reviewers exists, covering every genre.
- All sorts of writing are finding an audience; readers, rather than professional reviewers, are choosing what they want to read.
- Both publishers and authors are building relationships with a wide (and ever growing) group of readers.
It’s a friendly community, I find, in the main. Not snobby or needlessly critical, but open and loyal. We’re intelligent and thoughtful readers, and we’re well-read. And the best of us are respectful and supportive of authors. Because above all else, we love books, love books, and what a wonderful development in technology that has brought us to a place where we can make a difference in the world of publishing.
Vive the book bloggers!