Are there too many book blogs?

Posted August 9, 2015 by Lory in discussions / 40 Comments

Before I started blogging a year and a half ago, I was not a regular follower of book blogs. I encountered them now and then when I was searching for a review or information about a particular book, but that was about it. So I had no idea of the vast extent of the book blogging world, which seems to have grown exponentially in the last few years. I found it quite impressive and sometimes overwhelming. With so many voices out there, how does one decide which ones to listen to?

After experiencing this abundance for a while, and encountering some frustration at trying to get my own small voice heard, I started to wonder: is it just too much? Does every single reader have to have his or her own book blog? Are we all talking to ourselves?

It seems as though pure mathematics is a factor. Time I spend blogging is time not spend reading or commenting on other blogs. And the more I become preoccupied with articulating my own thoughts, the less attention I have for everyone else. Taken to an extreme, this means that eventually everyone would have his or her own blog bubble. If for you, blogging is just like keeping a personal reading journal, this doesn’t matter, but it does to me. I want to talk to other readers, and I hope they want to talk to me.

What’s to be done, if anything? I certainly don’t want to squash anyone’s impulse to start a blog, but I do wish there were ways to come together and create more conversation. Collective blogs are an interesting approach, since they can attract a larger audience through the power of collaboration. The Socratic Salon is a new one that has roared out of the gate this year and has wonderful discussions about all kinds of topics, as well as being a place to talk about particular titles without worrying about spoilers. Vulpes Libris is an elegant magazine-style blog run by a group of “book foxes” whose varied interests are always a joy to encounter. Shiny New Books is another online “magazine,” focusing on new releases, that offers reviews from many different bloggers in a convenient, well-organized format.

Although I enjoy being the queen of my little blog kingdom, I’m intrigued by these endeavors (and have actually written for the Socratic Salon and Shiny New Books). Of course, if everyone has to have an individual blog, and a collective blog, this is not going to solve the too-many-blogs problem. . .

How about you? Do you sometimes feel like you’re making the sound of one hand clapping? Do you have ideas about how we can get together more effectively? Or other examples of creative approaches to the problem?

Posted for the Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight.

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40 responses to “Are there too many book blogs?

  1. “Do you sometimes feel like you’re making the sound of one hand clapping?”
    Not since my early days of book review blogging have I felt this. Following WordPress’s advice about following and liking andcommenting intelligently on other book review blogs (found via specific tags) I’ve tried hard — if not always consistently — to maintain links with like-minded booklovers. Such as this one! It’s about quality not quantity, so I’ve avoided blogs that only deal superficially with reading and related matters, and have been rewarded with a core of correspondents who respond intelligently about the joys of literacy.

    “Do you have ideas about how we can get together more effectively? Or other examples of creative approaches to the problem?”
    Sadly I don’t. I’ve found that linking with other social media has limited effect unless I work hard at it, and because I’ve nothing to sell I’m not motivated to pursue these links. The key thing, which you’ve already highlighted, is time: why spend valuable time chasing up yet more virtual acquaintances to interact with when you’re happier actually reading or interacting with the valued bloggers who already intelligently engage with your passion?

    So, quick answer to more effective and creative ideas: please provide more hours to the day!

    • Wouldn’t that be wonderful? But I’m afraid they would fill up as quickly as the ones we already have, so I’d better make the best of those. Thank you for reminding me to value what I have without chasing after more; I do feel very lucky to have connected with so many intelligent and thoughtful readers such as yourself. I only hope that everybody can get to that point!

  2. Jim

    While the number of book blogs in existence seems almost overwhelming, I am reluctant to claim that there are “too many book blogs”. I would rather encourage all who choose to voice their opinions, feelings, and reactions, for better or worse, on their reading. As a reader and bibliophile I feel that I must maintain there can never be too many readers of books and, as a corollary, there can never be too many book bloggers.

    • I would never say there are too many readers! Or too many book bloggers, for that matter. I just wonder if it would be helpful to create spaces where we can find one another and communicate more easily — for those who wish to do so.

  3. I’m with Chris–I find it more important to connect with a small circle of likeminded bloggers, many of whom are the older timers I met back in the day (eight years ago) when I was starting…Yours is one of the fewer newer blogs I consider a Blog Friend. I follow over 400 blogs looking for posts for my MG SFF Sunday round-ups, but don’t have time to interact meaningfully with many of them.

    Kidlitcon is a lovely place to go meet bloggers in real life! I can’t recommend it highly enough. And next summer I am determined to make it to Readercon.

  4. I think my comment just gotten eaten. Sigh.

    I agree–there are too many book bloggers to be friends with them all! I follow over 400 for the purposes of my Sunday MG SFF roundups, but most of my Blog Friends are those who were there back in the dawn of time when I started years and years ago. You are one of the few newer bloggers I think of as a Blog Friend ! I hope you can make it down to Baltimore for Kidlitcon!

    • Your comment didn’t get eaten (see above), but the CommentLuv didn’t work and your name came out wrong on the second one — sorry about that!

      I would love to go to Kidliticon! Baltimore is a bit far for me…maybe some day it will come to Boston? It would definitely be fun to meet up. 🙂

      I definitely value being able to connect with a small group of like-minded bloggers. But sometimes it seems there are SO MANY options out there it’s hard to find even that small group. I’m glad that serendipity has led me to the ones I interact with regularly (like you).

  5. This is such an interesting question. Like you, I had no idea that this vast world of book blogging even existed before I started blogging myself. And it was even later that I realized just how MANY book blogs are out there. Even after having spent two and a half years really trying to dig in deep and participate in the book blogging community, I am still constantly surprised by the sheer number of blogs that I run across that are completely new to me. That’s one of the reasons that I created the discussion challenge – because I felt like discussions are such a great way for us to connect with each other and experience this thing together. It’s been really successful, but it’s still just a tiny drop in an incredibly huge bucket. I’ve learned to let it go and focus on the connections I DO have rather than worrying about the ones I don’t, though. Or at least I try!

    • The discussion challenge has been very helpful in creating new opportunities to discover and interact with other blogs. My hope is that we all can find some level of interaction that makes us happy.

  6. there are indeed a lot of book blogs, I follow a few hundreds of them, but I don’t think there are too many: each has its own style, some focus more on a genre than others. Plus, many just last for a few months or a couple of years.
    I actually wish there were more by readers in their 40s and 50s
    I tried to be part of a collective one, but it didn’t really work for me, I prefer to post what I want when I want, or am able to!
    Lots of bloggers I read have many comments, so it proves there’s a nice communication going on. I have myself some faithful readers but it takes a while and perseverance to build up a community of readers.

    • I appreciate how unique each blog can be, and would love to check them all out. Just as I can’t read all the books, though, I can’t read all the blogs! I have to accept that.

  7. Well, maybe. I usually try to take a look at ones I haven’t seen before, but there are plenty of blogs that are so niche oriented that they’re not really interesting to me. For example, there are some people that only review things like YA science fiction, and while I occasionally review a YA book, I’m mostly interested in adult books. Also, this may seem snooty, but I won’t read a blog that contains too many grammatical errors. In addition, there are blogs don’t do much more than reprint the synopsis of the book from the jacket. Yes, I think it’s hard to develop an audience because of the number of blogs. I’ve been blogging for several years, and I still don’t have a big enough audience to get in the Books category on WordPress. I am still in Books 2. So, it can be frustrating, but I’ve added about 100 followers a year. So maybe soon!

    • The kind of blogs you describe don’t appeal to me either, but there are still a huge number of the ones that do! So many blogs, so little time.

  8. Great post Lory.

    I think about these issues a lot.

    Indeed blogging and visiting other blogs take time. I am more concerned as to how this takes away from precious reading time.

    Before i started my blog I participated in a very active literary website with multiple discussion threads. One reason that I began my blog was that it did not give me the type of form that I wanted. I really needed my own forum.

    I do believe somewhat in the marketplace of ideas. The best blogs will in the end get the most attention. Variety is important too. Some blogs will aim for mass appeal, some will find niches. Some will be casual, some more formal. I think that a large variety of blogs will only help all this along.

    • I also think about blogging/reading blogs taking away reading time. But both activities also enrich my reading. It’s necessary to strike a balance somehow.

      I enjoy the variety of blogs that are out there. Sometimes I wish there were better directories available for them, so we could more easily find the ones we’re interested in. But that would be a huge and complicated task to develop.

  9. I do sometimes get nostalgic for the old days of book blogging, when the community felt quite manageably like a community, and it seemed like all the book bloggers knew each other. But when I start getting into that mindset, I remind myself that in those days I was far too shy to talk to most of the bloggers who are now my friends, and also the olden days had their own fusses and fights, and ALSO and quite importantly, people rarely talked about diversity then whereas now people talk about it all the time and that’s better.

    Doesn’t really answer your question though! I think book blogging is still a way that I connect to other readers when I need to rave about a new favorite or complain about a book that disappointed me. I try really hard to stay connected with other bloggers because to me, that’s been the primary benefit of blogging this whole time.

    • For me, too — that’s why I hope that as the community continues to grow, we can still find one another amidst the crowd.

  10. I have no one IRL with whom I can discuss books, so I blog to share my thoughts and see what others think of books I’ve read. Through that I’ve discovered bloggers who have similar thoughts about blogging as I, but don’t read the same books, so it’s expanded my world a bit. I also am handicapped, so the internet is my door to the world.

    • I’m lucky to have bookish friends and family, but I still value the chance to go beyond those immediate connections and get to know people I wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to meet.

  11. This is a really interesting discussion. I’m glad that there are a lot of book blogs out there because I have very eclectic reading tastes. I need to follow a ton of blogs to get the variety of book recommendations that I need. However, I do agree that it’s hard to feel a sense of community when your community is massive. It’s impossible to talk to everybody.

    • You’re so right about picking up different kinds of recommendations from different blogs. I love that — it’s so individual, not just hearing about the big-name hyped titles that everyone is talking about.

  12. Great topic! I have also thought a lot about these issues. It’s so nice to connect with like-minded bloggers, but it’s true there’s a staggering amount of blogs out there and not enough time. I go through phases where I make a lot of effort to comment and discover new-to-me bloggers, and then phases where I focus on reading and just enjoying the community I have already established.

    • I also go through those phases — and bloggers I’m following do drop out occasionally and then I have a bit of reading time to fill up again!

  13. There are lots of blogs, but I think when you pick out those that particularly interest you it’s not so overwhelming. You will miss loads, but it’s an easier way to navigate. And you end up meeting many more people at events and so forth.

    I do sometimes feel one hand clapping thing but it doesn’t last for long.

    • I have no problem finding blogs that interest me! Keeping those down to a manageable number is challenging. I feel sad sometimes about neglecting lesser-trafficked blogs, but I can’t be everywhere.

  14. Cool discussion! I don’t think there are too many book blogs as long as we’re being unique. I do think there are too many if they’re also all posting the same thing (blitzes, cover reveals, etc.). But unique discussions like this are what make book blogging interesting. We get to look into the thoughts of other people who have similar interests and connect with them on a more personal level.

    I’m always looking for more blogs that regularly post personal/discussion type posts because they’re the most interesting. But I do ignore blogs that feel like they’re all the same and don’t post unique content.

    • I’m not interested in that kind of content either, especially if it’s just reproducing the marketing material from the publisher — why bother? The uniqueness of each blog is what makes seeking out and discovering them worthwhile.

  15. Having “too many book blogs” is a double-edged sword. It means there are more vocal readers, but you can’t connect to everybody, and I think it’s that okay. Nobody expects a New Yorker to know everyone in New York, just that person’s friends and who makes him happy. I like having a small circle of blogging friends, and that’s enough for me.

    • Interesting analogy to a big city. There are still lots of lonely people in New York, even though they’re surrounded by others, because everyone is absorbed in their own business and activities. Similarly there are still blogs that don’t get much attention, even with lots of active readers around. It can sometimes be hard even to gather a small circle of friends.

  16. This is such a great discussion, and I find myself thinking about this a lot as well. I started blogging about 2 months ago, and have been enjoying small successes in terms of blog traffic and an active interaction with my readers. However, I can definitely see how the huge blogging circle makes that activity hard to maintain. I’m constantly meeting new people, reading and commenting on their posts… I honestly spend at least 1 hour a day commenting back and visiting blogs. That’s not to mention the social media upkeep as well – I feel that I definitely have less time for reading. However, blogging also makes reading so much more enjoyable for me personally that I find it rewarding in the end.

    PS I LOVE YOUR SITE.

    • The social interaction does take a LOT of time, on top of all the time creating your own posts. I can understand not having the time and energy to reach out very much, and I certainly appreciate those who do.

  17. I know what you mean – I am very much aware that I spend a lot more time on my own blog than I do reading anyone else’s. But then, I did start writing it for myself in the first place – it has become so much more fun since I started participating with others but even so, I enjoy it as a creative process above anything else. And also – free books! Really interesting topic though, thank you for posting!

    • There’s nothing wrong with blogging for oneself — it’s basically an online journal after all. I find the possibilities for interaction fascinating, though. It’s great to be able to connect with book lovers all over the world!

  18. I rarely get time to visit other blogs and comment on their posts. I wish I could do more of that. I think that might be one reason the blog hasn’t grown as much as I would like. I do feel like I’m talking to myself a lot of the time, because I post discussions that no one comments on. Maybe I’m boring. Or, maybe no one even knows about it. I’m not sure which it is.

    Part of me feels like there are too many blogs, but I guess that’s okay because each person is going to have their own way of looking at the same thing, which can be very interesting.

    • In my experience, interacting with other blogs will definitely help increase activity on your own. It just makes sense — people are curious to see who commented on their blog, and they will check you out. But it does take a lot of time!

      Do you link your discussions in the Book Blog Discussion monthly linkups? I always seem to get lots of traffic from those.

      And you’re right — it’s great to be able to see each person’s individual point of view. If only we could find time to read them all!

      • I did link up this month. I had forgotten about it for a while. I have been just so overwhelmed with tours and reviews, I lost sight of doing any discussions. I am definitely going to make it a priority.

  19. Just coming upon this post now, so a bit late to the discussion party. BUT, like you, I was not a reader of book blogs before I started my own. I think if I had been, I never would have started mine b/c of the sheer number of great book blogs already out there. So, I’m glad I went in blind 🙂
    Now that I’m here, I do think there is room for a good number of blogs because people’s taste in books is so wide and varied. The same blogger probably isn’t going to appeal to everyone…in the blog’s voice/tone or blogger’s taste in books.

    • Ha ha, I know what you mean — sometimes I look around and think “why is my voice needed to add to all this?” And yet each person has something unique to contribute. That’s what I love about blogging.