You know how PBS and NPR (and other non-U.S. variations thereof) try to get you to donate during sponsor drives four weeks out of the year? Well, consider yourself lucky that I’m only asking a few minutes of your time, and I’m not asking for any money.
I am asking you to change your habits ever so slightly.
Like NPR asks you, what public radio means to you, I am asking you, during this week of appreciation, what book blogs mean to you.
Those behind the web 2.0 times like put down book bloggers. They say that we are often “more enthusiastic” than “professional” and that we will soon fall by the wayside. The first may be true (but those with so-called “professional” accreditations tend to hail from publications in the red and organizations that can’t seem to figure out how to get people to read) and it appears during this week, of all weeks, that book bloggers are here to stay.
With your help, that is.
Book bloggers work hard. For nothing. Or at least close to nothing. Occasionally a blog comes along that makes it “big time” (and truly, who among us doesn’t at least sometimes aspire to that?), but for the most part, bloggers shell out more than they take in. Whether it is paying for prizes, paying for shipping, or switching to self-hosting formats, many bloggers spend money promoting and maintainging their blogs.
Which I why I am channeling PBS (pun intended) in asking, what do book blogs mean to you?
To me, they mean a freedom of opinion, an outlet for lesser-known authors as well as big names to promote their books equally, a community of people passionate about literacy, and an interaction ideas. And though some people predict their downfall, I want to see them grow in strength and presence. I have dreams of more blogs reaching the mainstream and picking up where so many newspapers seem to be slacking off.
But here is where I mix campaigns, and point the finger. Ask not what book blogs can do for you (interviews! Give aways! Guest posts! Oh my!), but what you can do for book blogs.
The solution is simple. Next time you go to buy a book at full price (i.e., a book you intend to purchase, that you have not found used or on sale), go to your Google Reader, type in the title or author, and see who has reviewed it. Then find a blog that has a link to Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, whatever, and purchase it. The blogger will probably only make a buck, but if we do this enough, if we change our habits to support each other, we strengthen our resolve to do things like blog on busy days and make our give aways international.
Now, I just tried it out. There is a book I need to get for a challenge, that my library doesn’t have, nor does any used bookstores in my neighborhood. I typed it into my Google Reader and of over 120 blogs I follow (many of which I have recently added thanks to BBAW), I came up with nada.
But I shall not despair! Because there are other things I can do to support the book blogosphere.
Example A. She Is Too Fond of Books has a section where you can buy ANY book at various online retailers and the money goes, not to She Is Too Fond of Books, but to First Books’s Books for Kids, Books for Keeps campaign.
Example B. Indiebound is an organization of independent bookstores, which are sort of like the book bloggers of the real world—though I don’t think that anyone would call them unprofessional, they are certainly enthusiastic and worthy of our support.
All any of these options—searching your reader, using an altruistic site like She Is Too Fond of Books, or going through Indiebound might take you a few extra seconds, but they don’t cost you anything more than if you were going to buy a book brand new, especially if you were going to buy it online.
But what it does in terms of vindicating blogging, supporting bloggers, and fortifying our community, is worth half a minute of your time. Isn’t it?
J.T. Oldfield blogs regularly at the Bibliofreak Blog!