Are Book Blog Discussion Posts Dying?

Book blogging has changed significantly in the eleven years we have been writing here at Pages Unbound. In our early days, book bloggers primarily focused on writing book reviews and many blogs did not even have images–not even of book covers! Then book bloggers discovered that writing discussion posts often resulted in more traffic, and some bloggers even pondered moving away from writing reviews altogether. Now, however, I have seen what appears to be a marked decrease in discussion posts from book blogs, and I can only hope that this is not the end of one of my favorite blogging trends. Still, I have some thoughts about why bloggers might want to move away from discussions.

Though I have always found the book blogging community to be friendly overall, I have also seen some of its less welcoming parts. One of the quirks of book blogging is, I think, actually that its overall friendliness sometimes can result in misunderstandings that would not happen elsewhere. That is, sometimes, there is a tendency to assume that whatever is posted will only result in agreement in the comments. So someone who likes a book might assume that the commenters will all say they liked the book, too. A commenter who says that they did not enjoy the book, even politely, might be seen as negative or argumentative, even if they were just expressing a valid and not really surprising opinion. Not everyone likes every book, after all–that’s just a fact! Still, sometimes, I think there is surprise that people have different opinions, and these different opinions are seen as rude, even if expressed respectfully.

Going along with this is the related idea that, if someone expresses a different opinion, explaining to them them why they are wrong will result in an immediate change of heart and apology. Of course, it is not realistic to expect that someone will change their entire opinion based on five minutes’ worth of reading blog posts and comments. It can take years for people to change opinions! Reading differing viewpoints is part of that process, but it is a process and it will take time. But I know that I have personally had experiences where I said I had not enjoyed a book because of aspects like X, Y, and Z, but then was told that I really should have enjoyed the book because of reasons A and B. When I answered that A and B weren’t enough for me to overlook X, Y, and Z, I was told I was wrong and hurtful, and the other person basically left in a huff. It was just a book I didn’t personally find engaging! I never said that others couldn’t like the book! But, books are intensely personal things, and sometimes book blogging can be a space where any sign of disagreement is taken as aggression, even if it other spaces it might just be part of a lively conversation.

And that brings us to one of the biggest changes in the book blogosphere I have seen over the past decade. There is a lot more controversy in general, and sometimes heated discussions arise over things that most people outside of Book Twitter probably would never think would be controversial in the first place. Much less something that should result in mass pile-ons of outrage. But the reality is that small things can become big things quickly online, and so sometimes it just seems safer to try to fade into the background and not express an opinion at all. I know that I myself sometimes wonder if I should really post a discussion, if I have the mental energy this week to deal with any misunderstandings or negative comments that might arise. Even if the discussion post is about something I might have thought relatively innocuous, like saying I usually prefer fantasy over sci-fi, I know that in the deep places of the internet, there are probably people who would be mean about it, and this might be the week they find me. Quite frankly, the idea of posting discussions can sometimes be exhausting and even a little scary.

So, are book blog discussion posts dying? I don’t really know. I don’t have any hard data. But it seems to me that fewer bloggers are writing discussion posts, and sometimes when I think about the general tenor of discourse online, that seems understandable to me. I hope we can reverse this trend to negativity, though. I hope that book bloggers’ general tendency towards kindness and respect will continue–and that it will be transformative.

60 thoughts on “Are Book Blog Discussion Posts Dying?

  1. Rosie Amber says:

    I follow few blogs that offer discussion posts. I try to get involved in them when I read them. I have tired discussion posts on my own blog which failed dramatically as there was no real discussion from them. It’s getting a subject that your reading audience is interested in that I found hard.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I like reading discussion posts, though I don’t always have something to add. Likewise, I hardly ever come up with ideas for discussion posts.

    Personally, I would like discussions to continue because blogs are great for long-form writing (vs writing a long comment on instagram on a phone!) but I recognise I’m contributing to the problem!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Krysta says:

      That’s true! Sometimes I read an interesting discussion and I don’t have anything that I feel is really insightful to say. Or five other people have already said it! So it’s hard sometimes to comment.

      Ah, true! I like blogs because I like the longer form content, too!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Mint says:

    I think it’s a mixture of blogs not being as popular anymore, discussion posts taking a lot of time for people, and the rise of discussion forums like Reddit, Discord, Facebook readers groups, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Krysta says:

      I guess I would see that as fodder for inspiration! If I were inspired to write something for another platform, I could expand on it and do another post for my blog–easy content when it sometimes feels so hard to keep coming up with new ideas! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Janette says:

    I love to read discussion posts and often comment on them. I don’t publish them as I feel that a discussion blog would almost certainly take a lot of time and I’m not sure that I could organise my thoughts clearly enough to write a post that other people would want to read.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Krysta says:

      Ah, yes, that’s so true! It can feel difficult to keep coming up with new discussion ideas and then to form them into something coherent that hopefully other people care about. The struggle is real!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Samantha @WLABB says:

    The internet can be quite inhospitable at times. I personally try to do one discussion post a month (as I partake in the book blogger discussion challenge). It’s ok for people not to agree with me, as long as they are respectful. I, however, do not like when people try to tell someone that their opinion is “wrong”. People are entitled to their own opinions. No one needs the thought police coming in. I guess I believe in the rules of engagement. It’s that person’s space to express their thoughts, and I respect their space and their freedom of expression.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      Haha! The thing I find most amusing about blogging is when some random internet person comes on to tell Briana and me that we’re wrong! We really SHOULD have liked a book and we only didn’t because clearly we didn’t understand it, and we have to read it again. Or literature doesn’t matter. Or the title we chose for our post is stupid. It’s never someone in the book blogging community, just some random person who dropped by and had THOUGHTS they just had to express about how ignorant we are. Also, the username is always a guy’s name, for what it’s worth. I don’t see women doing this.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Krysta says:

          The weird thing is, these men aren’t even readers of our blog. They just pop up, comment, and never return. I’ve stopped answering these comments because I realized this type of person has no interest in discussion, just wanted to inform me I am wrong, and then disappears! So it’s a waste of my time to answer like we’re having a rational discussion!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I think the vast majority of my negative experiences were from random internet readers and not anyone in the book blogging community–which tends to be very nice! I did have…I want to say three…negative interactions with bloggers. Over 11 years. That’s pretty good!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kim @ Traveling in Books says:

    I like a good discussion post. It’s nice to see someone’s opinion on a given subject, and they often make me take a deeper look at things I might not have given a second thought to. I personally haven’t written one for a while (or any book reviews, either) because I’ve been working on other projects not related to blogging. But one day, perhaps, I will get back to them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Krysta says:

      Ah, yes, the struggle to find time! I’m running out of discussion ideas and I haven’t read much lately because I’ve been so busy. So we’ll see how that ends up!

      Like

  7. BookerTalk says:

    I usually enjoy reading discussion posts but I can understand people may not be doing them as frequently because it’s hard to keep coming up with a new topic or angle. Plus, they don’t have as much longevity as reviews. Once the discussion has run its course, it’s very rare to get traffic later from say a Google search

    Liked by 3 people

    • Krysta says:

      So true! I was trying to think of new discussion topics the other day and…just couldn’t. Sometimes it’s hard to wait for inspiration to strike!

      And, yeah, discussions can feel good in the moment when they generate comments, but they aren’t evergreen and we don’t typically get later views on them.

      Like

  8. danielle pitter says:

    I still like discussion posts, but I prefer video essays or reviews. I’m beginning to like the idea that you can get to know someone’s opinion through their facial expressions, voice, and inflections, rather than reading and still not getting the full context. Because everything can be taken out of context through text or written form now.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Krysta says:

      I know videos are so, so popular, but I can’t seem to get into them! I think because I can read faster than I can watch! Or I am just behind the times, lol. But I know what you mean about text leading to misunderstandings!

      Like

  9. Sara @storiesandsidequests says:

    Discussion posts are my favorite type of posts and I have been making an effort to commenting on them more frequently lately. I’ve only been blogging for a little over a year so I can’t say whether they’re declining but I do feel like discussion posts often get buried under mountains of weekly memes and reviews.
    I’ve started to really love writing discussion posts lately. Even though I don’t get many visitors on my page, they’re really fun to write.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Eryn says:

    I love discussion posts! Personally, I love hearing other people’s opinions and it’s great when they can even back it up with reasons why they have that opinion. I know people can get really upset when their opinion isn’t the shared opinion, but I think it’s better that we’re all differing opinions anyway. You can learn more about the blogger or commenter and get into good discussions with them. Plus, life is boring when no one disagrees with you.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. jordyn says:

    I started blogging in January of this year, and I can honestly say that since then I think I’ve seen less than 5 discussion posts from blogs I follow. And the ones that I DO see are usually for books that I haven’t read yet. If they WERE about books that I have read, I would absolutely participate in a discussion, but these sorts of posts are few and far between these days for whatever reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      It’s interesting because, on one hand, I think older bloggers are thinking, “Well I can’t write ANOTHER post about whether audiobooks or paper books are better or ANOTHER one about whether you should comment back on other blogs. But on the other hand, there are new bloggers all the time and discussions that seem “overdone” to some bloggers are completely new to others! So I would think someone would be writing disucssions!

      Liked by 3 people

  12. Celeste | A Literary Escape says:

    I will say I joined the book blogging community primarily for the book reviews and for the shared love of books. Discussion posts weren’t even on my radar. But I do notice they [seem to] get the most engagement on book bloggers’ blogs. I’ve found I enjoy reading discussion posts because I know I won’t have to self-censor what I read–meaning, if I haven’t read a book before reading a review, then I often skim a review if I know it’s a book I want to read, but don’t want to get spoiled about; I don’t have to worry about that with discussion posts.

    Now that I’ve been blogging for over a year, I’ve created a list of discussion topics that I think I’d like to post about. But you hit the nail on the head–people seem more argumentative these days, and to be honest I don’t feel like devoting the mental energy to try to assuage someone’s hurt feelings that may have arisen because a point of view was misunderstood or not shared. I write my reviews carefully, but I feel that a discussion post requires even more time to compose to make sure your discussion is clearly communicated. Maybe one day I’ll feel brave enough to post some discussion/commentary. I’m glad you and Briana do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I think one thing to consider is that discussion posts do seem to get more engagement in terms of comments. And ours often get lots of views the same day, which then peter out over the next two or three days. So a lot of bloggers love them for this reason! However, other posts like reviews and lists, while maybe not getting comments, tend to be more evergreen content and will get views long after discussion posts because they turn up in search engines. So I see both as important depending on what one’s goals are as a blogger. But sometimes I think bloggers (myself included) forget that reviews get traffic, too! It’s just more spread out.

      Oh, I like the idea of keeping a list of ideas to post about! I am always trying to come up with new ideas and it’s so hard! But other days I feel like a discussion post blows up in a way I didn’t expect, and I just want to lie low for a few weeks with some safe reviews!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    Hmm, interesting point. I haven’t thought much about the question of whether discussions posts are dying – but I can relate to what you describe about posting a comment that doesn’t only agree with the OP. I do have a lot of people I consider blogging buddies, where I feel comfortable sharing my difference of opinion on their posts, but even when I do that, I feel like I have to qualify it with many disclaimers to to try to avoid misunderstandings like you describe. I wish more folks could accept that someone disagreeing with your opinion isn’t always a direct attack.

    All that being said, I can think of a few times where I posted what might be considered a discussion post on my own blog and felt very wary of what others might think of it, because I was writing on topic that I hadn’t fully developed an opinion on or was still learning about. Maybe I am too sheltered in my corner of the internet, but luckily I haven’t had any negative experiences on such posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      So true! I think it’s easier to disagree with people you know better and who understand you aren’t trying to be offensive. Even then, I find myself offering qualifier or making liberal use of emojis to try to convey that I’m discussing because discussing is fun and interesting, and I’m not upset. My tendency in written communication is to be direct, and I know that doesn’t always read well. I’m the type of person who might email, “Can you send me a copy of the Y report? Thanks!” and not, “Hello! How are you? I hope you’re well. Could you please send me a copy of the Y report. You worked so hard on it and I loved it and I want to share it so other people can love it, too! Keep up the good work, etc.” And I am aware that bothers some people. But I like to think that people who know me know it’s just me being me!

      I will say that usually when we get negative comments, they are not from regular readers of our blog. They are often from Twitter or other sites where a link to our blog was shared. Book bloggers in general tend to be very kind, and I think our readers in particular are awesome!

      Like

  14. Charvi says:

    I love writing discussion posts but it does take a lot of time and effort. I haven’t faced much negative comments on my previous such posts and either way, any negativity or rebukes don’t bother me. It’s just that for me to be happy to put out a post it needs to be well researched, formatted and thought out which means putting across points from different angles for a discussion post which in turn takes quite some time.

    I do hope they don’t die though, they’re probably my favourite bookish content lately!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      So true! Writing discussion posts takes me longer than writing reviews. Often I want to do some research, so that takes time, too. And then just settling my thoughts because I know my tendency is to write very directly, and sometimes that doesn’t read well on the internet. I try to soften things so people don’t think I’m angry or trying to be offensive if I’m not.

      And I agree! I love seeing discussion posts and thinking about topics I might not have thought about deeply before!

      To be fair, most of our negative comments aren’t from regular readers of our blog. They’re sometimes from Twitter or from sites where someone posts a link to our site. And then for awhile we’ll get some angry people stopping by who wouldn’t normally even read our stuff. I remember fondly the time a random internet man got very pompous on another site about how he didn’t like the title of my post. Not sure he read the actual post. Who knows. Lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. theperusingmuse says:

    I’m writing discussion posts for my book reviews. I don’t get why there has to be controversy if someone doesn’t like a book. What works for one person might not work for another, and we’re all going into reading with our own perspectives and preferences. Do you have any recommendations if sites to follow?

    Like

  16. Ann says:

    If your not an establish blog with a lot of followers it hard to get any engagement at all. Writing discussion post early on are not going to get a lot of attention. So do I keep writing book reviews or write discussion post and hope it gets notices?

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think this is a good point! I see people say frequently that they write discussion posts and get no interaction, but that does raise the question of what their blog traffic is like in general. If no one sees the discussion, then that’s why they’re not getting comments, not that the discussion itself was poorly written or anything like that!

      Personally, I think discussions have the potential to *get* more traffic than reviews. As in, they’re more likely to be shared by others on social media, and other bloggers are more likely to share them in monthly round-ups of blog posts, etc. I do a round-up of posts, and I pretty much only link to discussions and lists, for instance, maybe one review here and there.

      So I believe there would be some benefit to writing discussions as a newer blogger and just trying to get them out there to get noticed by other people, but I’d probably balance it so I wasn’t writing lengthy discussions all the time: just enough to hopefully start getting some traction. And you can always promote the discussions months later once your blog starts getting more traffic/followers. I link to some of our old discussions on Twitter once in a while and get some new views that way.

      Like

  17. Katie @ Doing Dewey says:

    I think the engagement you get on your discussion posts is a strong argument that they’re not dying. People clearly still enjoy reading them! Personally, I’ve enjoyed writing discussion posts less as time goes by. I feel like a lot of the same topics get rehashed and I don’t have the time and energy I think it would take to come up with fresh topics or fresh takes to write about.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I’m actually very confused because our engagement dipped for a few months and now we’re getting all these comments, and I don’t know what’s happening! XD

      I agree with that, though! Often I go to write a discussion post and realize I already did it three years ago. Or I do discussion posts but they’re kind of variations on the same theme for new audiences since blogger turnover seems high.

      I also sometimes take a break just because I don’t have the mental capacity for it. After being ripped to shreds on the last one, I just stopped working on the several drafts I have for new ones. I need a break from the negativity!

      Like

  18. erin💙 says:

    interesting post, i think they are still really valued but people spend less time doing anything in general, and they tend to take more time writing them.

    Like

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