Why Book Reviews Are Not Going Anywhere

Discussion Post Stars

With the increase in popularity of discussion posts, there has been some anxiety in the book blogosphere that book reviews are becoming obsolete.  After all, compared to the traffic that discussion posts gets, it looks as if no one reads book reviews and no one comments on them anyway.

While I think there is some truth to that observation (our discussion posts probably get twice as many views as our reviews, and they can get three times as many comments), I also think it is somewhat of an exaggeration.  There are reasons discussion posts see more interaction.  But there are also reasons that book blogs will always have reviews.

Why Discussion Posts Get All the Fun

Simply put, discussion posts are more universal.  Anyone who likes to read (any genre, any number of books per year) can probably find something to say about how they organize their books, whether they prefer e-books or paper copies, or how they approach their to-be-read pile.

A book review, on the other hand, has a much narrower audience: it appeals mainly to people who have either read that exact book already, or people who are interested in something specific about that book (i.e. a fantasy book review will be more interesting to fantasy fans than to people who primarily reads memoirs).

So discussion posts naturally get more hits and more comments.

Why Blogs Will Always Have Book Reviews Anyway, Even If “No One” Reads Them

From reading the results of surveys that various bloggers have asked their followers to complete, I noticed a general trend: Blog followers overwhelmingly say they like to read book reviews on book blogs.  They may not read every review that a blogger posts, but they want to see them posted.

So, on a very base level, bloggers who want to keep their followers will probably keep writing reviews.

However, I think the desire to see bloggers reviewing reveals something a little deeper: Book reviews give a book blog legitimacy.  When a blogger reviews books, they are demonstrating that they read.  No one wants to read a blog filled with discussion posts about every bookish topic imaginable—without having any “real” indication that the blogger is actually a reader and is “qualified” to talk about books.

Secondly, book reviews give a blog personality.  They show what types of books the blogger likes, and what types of things they think make a book “good.”  Reading a blogger’s reviews helps followers determine whether they have similar tastes, and how much weight they should give to that blogger’s opinions.  They help readers decide which blogs to watch.

So, keep reviewing, everyone, and the right readers will eventually find your posts!

17 thoughts on “Why Book Reviews Are Not Going Anywhere

  1. Krysta says:

    I think book reviews are important, too, in that they give readers something specific to talk about. Individual stories, I imagine, and not a general love of literature in the abstract is what attracts people to reading and to book blogging. We read because we love certain authors, certain characters, certain worlds, certain words. Why not talk about them?


    • Briana says:

      Agreed! It would probably get old pretty fast if no one talked about individual books. We’d probably exhaust talking about the generalities of reading pretty quickly.


  2. Nish says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s good to know. I notice that book reviews don’t get an awful lot of comments, but they are good sources of traffic even years after the review is published, and I know that a reader who read a review was precisely looking for a review of that particular book.

    Also, a lot of bookish discussions are mostly interesting to other book reviewers I feel while book reviews are read by non book bloggers as well.


    • Briana says:

      Yes! I think, unless you’ve read the book being reviewed or otherwise have strong opinions about it, it can be a little difficult to comment on a book review, even if you want to. So, yes, people are looking at the post, even if they aren’t saying much!

      That’s a very good point! Non-bloggers probably are more likely to be reading blogs for book reviews. After all, it isn’t too relevant to them if someone’s posting all the time about contacting publishers, redoing their blog, organizing their blogging schedule–things they themselves never do.


  3. EustaciaT says:

    Awesome post, and timely encouragement! I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading my blog, but then I remember, I should just review what I like, and eventually, the right reader will come along (every now and then I get surprised by a reader who emails me – it makes my day!)


    • Briana says:

      Yes! I think every blogger, even “big” ones get discouraged once in awhile. No one wants to be talking to a void. But I think it’s important to remember that just because someone doesn’t comment, it doesn’t mean they aren’t reading. And just because 100 people didn’t read something the day it was posted, it doesn’t mean no one will ever read that post. 🙂


  4. Allison @ The Book Wheel says:

    I’ve had this discussion with a few other bloggers and we came to the consensus that, while book reviews are commented on less, they are read just as much. I get most of my recommendations from other bloggers, but I can only comment “great review” or “I’ll pick this up” so many times before it sounds insincere, so even if I take your recommendation seriously, I’m not likey to comment on it. Great post (said sincerely).


    • Briana says:

      I agree! I love reading book reviews, but it can be hard to comment on all of them, particularly if I haven’t read the book yet and can’t say something stunningly original about it. And people would probably go mad if you posted “Great review” on every review they posted! Then we’d be having discussion posts about people who leave boring comments. 😉


      • Krysta says:

        I routinely read reviews, but I seldom comment on them because I’d like to say something meaningful. If five people have already said, “Great review!” I feel almost silly making the author respond to yet another of the same comment! I’ve gathered that many people think this way, too–that is, they don’t want to say something “boring” and generic–and yet, at the same time, we all seem to appreciate those “boring” comments because they let us know that people are responding to our content.


  5. Angie@Angela's Anxious Life says:

    I have to be honest.. I have to keep doing book reviews because there is NO WAY I could think of enough bookish topics to have a discussion on my blog everyday! I know some people could do this. Every now and then I realize I haven’t done a discussion post in a while and then I sit awake at night thinking about what to talk about! LOL! Book Reviews for the win!


    • Briana says:

      I completely agree! I follow some bloggers who have a weekly discussion post as part of their blogging schedule, and I don’t think I could commit even to that. Partially that’s because I like to both blog and read as the mood strikes me; I don’t want too much structure to make me feel I “have” to blog a certain way. But I also don’t think I could come up with that many discussion topics, at least not ones I think are truly compelling.


  6. Anila Syed says:

    Thanks for this post! It is not only good for the blog, but, as an author, receiving a review from a well-known blog or even on Amazon, is like all your birthdays at once! Sometimes you feel that you can not thank the reviewer enough!

    It is proof that not only did someone take the time to read something that you have written, but that they also then took the trouble to compose an opinion and post it online. And its a great way for others to find you.


  7. Stephanie B (@Chasm_of_Books) says:

    Fantastic post. I entirely agree with you. Plus, even if people don’t read them, they’re seeing the books there and probably seeing the rating, which can create buzz about a book. Buzz is sometimes better than actual words for a book.


    • Briana says:

      That’s a great point! There’s some marketing rule that says people need to hear about a product a certain number of times (I forget how many exactly) before they notice it and considering buying it. So just seeing ten of your blogger friends post about a book, even if you never read their reviews, will make you book likely to buy that book than one you’ve never heard of!


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