The Circularity of Book Blogging (Discussion Post)

The Circularity of Book Blogging

Krysta and I have been blogging for over eight years now, and while she recently wrote a post about the things that have changed in book blogging over those eight years, both of us have also been struck by how much has stayed the same.  While scrolling through posts in our readers or brainstorming our own discussion post topics, we’ve both noticed that there seem to be perennial questions, that things we wrote posts about five years ago continue to pop up as new conversations.

I’m sure this is partially because there’s a decent amount of turnover in the book blogging community, both in bloggers and readers.  So although we wrote posts on things like “Do you comment back?” and “Why I Don’t Listen to Audiobooks” quite a while ago, these questions are going to seem new to people who simply were not blogging or reading blogs five years ago.

Yet even questions that seem as if they ought to have “settled,” like whether paper books are better than e-books, whether listening to audiobooks counts as reading, and whether YA books have any value or are trash written for children, come up year after year.  Even when one thinks the debate is over and the topic has been discussed from every angle possible, the conversation continues.

It’s interesting to note that the same questions repeat themselves, but sometimes it makes it a bit difficult to be an “older” blogger.  Sometimes this is because I’ve already read a large number of posts on the same topic over the past eight years, so unless something new is being brought to light in the discussion, I have no personal interest in reading the most recent posts on the issue.  This means I can scroll past a dozen discussion posts in my reader and not want to read a single one.  Sometimes it also feels as if it makes it difficult to write discussion posts.  If “everyone” seems to be discussing something like “why adults should be allowed to read YA” but I already wrote a post about that—maybe even more than one—a few years ago, do I write another?  Can find something new to add to the conversation?

I love that people read and discuss books, and of course I think people should blog about what they like and realize that the conversations will in fact be new to many readers.  That’s why they get so many comments and engagement!  Yet on a personal level, I do sometimes struggle with the repetition, if only in the sense I personally no longer find these topics as shiny and new and interesting.

What do you think?  Have you seen some of the same conversations repeat while you’ve been blogging?  What is your reaction?  Do you keep reading the posts?  Keep writing new ones of your own?

Briana

27 thoughts on “The Circularity of Book Blogging (Discussion Post)

  1. quan ngọc says:

    this is interesting! i’m still pretty new to book blogging, but i’ve been on the internet for long enough to see certain conversations repeat. i still read ones that interest me, because i like knowing what others personally think about the subject matter, but i think it’s a bit discouraging for newer bloggers to make discussion posts of our own? i’m always afraid that i’m parroting someone else’s ideas, whether intentionally or unintentionally, or my opinions aren’t fresh enough to contribute anything to the conversations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Grab the Lapels says:

      I think that if you make the conversation specific to you, it can still be interesting. Don’t simply ask, “Is an audiobook actually reading?” Instead, share some audiobooks you’ve listened to and how that mode of storytelling left an impression (positive and negative) on you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lois says:

    I have definitely seen this sense of repetition over the years, and the one discussion that always seems to crop up again is the question of arcs. I don’t tend to write as many discussion posts now, mainly because I feel like whatever I’m going to say has already been said by many.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    What a lovely discussion! Now, this is something I haven’t thought about because I haven’t really been around that long, it doesn’t feel like? So a lot of the repetition feels pretty new to me. But I can definitely see it being a problem for people who have blogged for so long, like the two of you. I also can’t imagine there are that many different ways to approach the same discussions over and over. I know I’ve made posts on some of the topics you’ve brought up as they came about again on Twitter (because all things are recycled on Twitter), but they were new to me. Before last year, the whole book/blog world just … sort of didn’t exist for me? So this is legitimately the first time I’ve thought about these things.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lindsay Short says:

    I definitely see where your coming from. I am newer to the community but I think the same topics may be recycled because they’re known to get likes and comments. I think this makes people more intimidated to try something new.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lesserknowngems says:

    I assume that what people are passionat about in the blogworld are linked to the outside world (to use a weired phrasing). I’m wondering if new bloggers write the same blogs because the non-blogging world isn’t that changed in how they meet readers. E.G. While the book blogging world has settled that adults can read YA, the outside world hasn’t changed in that regard, and that means new readers come in to the book blogging world with the same baggage as for 8 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Terézia says:

    As someone who just started book blogging I do not have such experience, but it is easy to imagine how quickly the novelty of certain discussion topics can perish. Especially when book blogs are a dime a dozen. Similar to recipe blogs, really. Some recipes are staple wherever you click.

    But certain bloggers can give an interesting twist to particular recycled questions. Bloggers should make discussion about what they have not seen around in their feed but they would want to. It is like that advice for writing “a book you would wish to read”. Perhaps that could reduce repetition at least by people who are mainly following trends. Or…?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I think that, even though I do sometimes feel tired of seeing the same discussions, there are still bloggers out there who bring an original take to an idea or who present an experience others may not have thought of/had. So though I often feel like I have nothing left to say, it’s heartening to know others do!

      Like

  7. Grab the Lapels says:

    I know that I’m tired of the conversation about audiobooks not “really” being reading. I’m also tired of brand-new bloggers (1-2 years old) writing posts about how to be a successful blogger/what they’ve learned. In my experience, people typically burn out around year 3 and disappear. If they keep blogging, chances are they don’t comment as much or get on their blog intermittently. I’m going to toot my own horn and say that I’ve been blogging for over 6 years with zero breaks/hiatus. I’ve learned a lot, especially about what a book blog “friend” is. They can’t always be cultivated like an in-person friendship, and I’ll let my feelings get hurt more often than I’m willing to elaborate on.

    More directly to your question: I do think it’s important to update old conversations with new knowledge. For instance, I’d be interested in a post about audiobooks that focuses solely on the information we have today regarding audiobooks and retention or audiobooks and learning disabilities. The science changes, so the post should change, too. I wouldn’t write a new post about whether or not an audio book is a BOOK, though. That argument is offensive to even present, in my opinion. It s**ts on everyone who has any sort of disability — learning, physical, emotional/mental health.

    I almost wonder if we older bloggers should take the reigns on writing essays more than discussions. I love research and did loads in grad school. It would fit for me. Even when I wrote my post about literary fiction not being a genre, I wasn’t really opening up a discussion, but making an argument with examples and reasoning. What if I had done more research? Now you’ve got me thinking. . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      Oh thank goodness you said it. I’m tired of the audiobook argument, too. To me, it’s a sort of a silly question to ask because book bloggers are all readers already. Asking if it “counts” because it’s “easy” (maybe to some, but not others–I struggle to listen to audiobooks) makes me feel like we’re back in grade school comparing who’s a “good” reader or not. We don’t need that; we all know we’re perfectly capable of reading and I certainly don’t care how people choose to go about it. As you say, some actually prefer/need to read audiobooks because of their individual circumstances. They shouldn’t be told they’re not “real” readers as a result.

      Good point about blogger turnover, too. I think people do the advice posts because they got traffic (they get more views for us than practically anything else). But you’re right that many bloggers stop and blogging changes as you go on. I used to be much more active commenting around and commenting back when we had fewer followers and it was easy to do. Now, I’m lucky if I find time to comment on my blog; I may not have time left over to visit a bunch of other blogs. I think that happens to everyone. It gets harder as your audience grows.

      I love the idea of more research, too! Elspeth did a post on audiobooks awhile ago and she had some research I hadn’t seen before. Because, um, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blogger provide any before? Most discussion posts seem to be personal opinion with varying levels of evidence. I think people don’t do this both because it takes a of time to research and because, in my experience, the more “academic” posts are, the less traffic they get. Some of our most trafficked discussion posts are just the questions like “Do you read backlist titles?” where people can comment their own experience. If I write something too long or too “academic,” views go down significantly. (Also, people keep calling our blog “academic” and this makes me giggle. Isn’t it really “academic” if you don’t throw words like “hermeneutic” around?)

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      • Grab the Lapels says:

        It’s true that when I write “research” I am thinking academic, but it’s also possible to include links to online articles. In m post about literary fiction, I shared a couple of links for readers to check out if they want to learn more about the conversation. I also think comparisons can impress readers. Here’s a funny example: this morning, I learned that the average American takes fewer vacations that a medieval peasant.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think it would be interesting to know whether anyone who doesn’t think it’s reading has actually changed their mind and now thinks it is reading. If no one is actually changing their opinion, then I guess we’re all just talking to ourselves and confirming that we agree it’s reading. Which is nice, I guess, but not particularly useful.

      I often think I’d like to write some posts that are more in-depth and have more research to them, and I’d love if other bloggers would too! I do think those would be very interesting topics. Chatting is fun, but if we’re all just throwing out opinions backed up by nothing, it can also be a little superficial.

      Like

      • Grab the Lapels says:

        I know I’ve changed my opinion about YA thanks to stronger recommendations from bloggers. I’ve also been more forgiving of myself when I review a lot of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, etc. I used to think I would lose readers because they didn’t like certain genres, but I realized I’m giving bloggers who don’t read X, Y, and Z genres a chance to see what’s great about the books I’ve read.

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  8. CHARIS RAE @ charisrae.com says:

    I agree with this 100%! I think it also makes it hard for brand-new bloggers in addition to seasoned ones. There’s a flood of information out there, and no matter your experience, it can be overwhelming and confusing. How do you come up with ideas for new discussions?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kozbisa says:

    I just had this discussion with my daughter/co-blogger the other day. I think having been active for a while, some of the topics seem done to death, but I guess it’s good for me to remember, that they are new for someone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall says:

    Great discussion, Briana! Even though I’ve only been blogging consistently for under two years, I’ve definitely begun to see what you mean. There are topics that I discussed a year ago, which received a fair amount of traffic. Now, over a year later, I’ve noticed that the same discussions are being brought up, and are still fairly popular. It does make it difficult to think of new content as a blogger, when so many topics have already been discussed hundreds of times over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes! I always wonder if I should do another post on the same topic, since I might have new followers, or if people who have been following me are going to think, “Uh, didn’t you write about this in 2016?”

      Like

  11. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says:

    Oh, I can definitely understand where you’re coming from with this. Since I host the Discussion Challenge, I sometimes feel like I’ve read every possible discussion under the sun, and I find it even harder to come up with new discussions for myself. I do still enjoy reading people’s perspectives, even on topics I’ve seen often, but I love it when I come across something truly brand new! (Now if only I could come up with something for myself that feels that way nowadays.)

    Like

  12. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Wow 8 years is a long time- that’s very impressive!

    I do get what you mean and relate to it in a lot of ways. I find that a lot of the same perennial questions do come up and a lot of the time a thought/post that you did years ago can be picked up by a newer blogger for the first time. But at the same time, I think that every time you revisit a topic, when you feel like talking about it again, it’s more like building on old ideas. So in a way, you can still take it further and part of that is because of having the foundation of all those discussion pieces to begin with. And I think that other people joining the conversation can only add to thoughts around it. So ultimately I kind of see being around longer as a positive, even when it comes to repetition. It can actually really help push debates further.

    Like

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