Thursday, 26 August 2010

Living In The Blogger Bubble

I was reading this post and the matter of different perspectives really struck a chord with me.

I am wondering whether us book reviewers/bloggers live in a special little bubble, undisturbed by the real world?

The reason I question this is because of Mockingjay. You might have heard of it. If you haven't, here's the story - Suzanne Collins is a YA who has written a trilogy called The Hunger Games. The third volume was released this week. Before release it was on strict embargo. My Twitter stream and my Google Reader reached feverishly excited proportions - people were declaring war on those who had posted spoilers. See? There were even swear words committed to blog posts.

I - being part of the bubble - found myself caught up in the excitement. Pictures like these:

had me frothing at the mouth!

I waited until today to try and pick up my copy from the local Waterstones. I envisaged massive displays with multiple copies of Mockingjay. I looked forward to seeing the shiny cover and feeling myself nestled comfortably in the blogger bubble, sharing my reading experience with people on Twitter.

There were NO copies of Mockingjay in Waterstones. Or in WHSmith, although I already suspected they wouldn't carry it.

As far as I was concerned this was one of the BIGGEST YA releases of recent months. Clearly my local bookshops didn't share the same view.

So, traipsing home disappointed I started to wonder (and then Larry's post punched it home) about the perspectives of bloggers. Thanks to reading other blogs and being infected by buzz, we become all wrapped up in shiny releases - and sometimes little realise that those releases have absolutely NO impact on booksellers.

Do you agree that there is a blogger bubble?


  1. I actually commented on this the other day to my girlfriend, pointing out to her the hints of excitement and frenzy that were edging into my Twitter feed.

    When I laughed and said, "and I've never even heard of them before now!" she gave me a flat look.

    "We own the first two, dear."

    "Do we? Have I read them?"

    I had to make her a cup of tea as penance.

  2. No Mockingjay at the bookstores in Frankfurt, Germany. I've been avoiding GoodReads, twitter, my google reader...I'm hoping I'll finally get a copy tomorrow.

  3. From my perspective, that's a failure of the bookshop. See how high the rankings for the Hunger Games books are on Amazon - there's going to be demand for it, even if it's not Twilight-level fervour, so they should have foreseen that.

  4. There're a ton of copies of Mockingjay wherever I go. Check grocery stores, pharmacies and such.

  5. Not only do I agree that there is a blogger bubble, I would say there are several.

    For example, I don't follow YA blogs regularly, so although I've heard of Hunger Games it carries no special meaning for me. When the whole Mockingjay-thing started appearing on Twitter and elsewhere online last week, I had to Google it to find out what the fuss was about.

    -And let us not start on the Twitter-blogger-bubble :-p

  6. Does it matter? If you are excited about a book, does it matter if no-one else shares your excitement?

    I'd never heard of Mockingjay before this week, but it's always nice to see people getting excited about books

  7. You're not the only one who feels this way: from the fervour surrounding it's pre-release I had assumed I Am Number Four was going to be released this week to massive publicity, but instead no one else seems to have heard of it - certainly not the customers.

    I also thought Mockingjay was going to be announced with great fanfare, but no, I didn't even receive the extra books I had ordered because I *knew* it was going to be a big hit, just the THREE measly copies which didn't even make it to the sales floor because of pre-orders. THREE COPIES. It wasn't even on our 'Important New YA releases' poster (new Skullduggery Pleasant, Cherub, and of course Pratchett are), which I find just a bit shocking. I made a display to celebrate the finale, for Teen Dystopian Ficton, but no one else seems to be doing anything. Certainly no parties with t-shirts like in that photo. (Alas.)

    I do think being surrounded by authors and publicists eager to hype their latest offerings can lead us to believe certain releases are more important or exciting than the normal consuming public. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad thing either - knowing about these things, feeling they're 'important' can help us champion them if they're not getting the attention we feel they deserve. And being passionate, or even interested in, about books is always a good thing. :)

  8. Lemme put it this way: I'm still waiting for the largest bookstore in my city to carry even a single copy of N K Jemisin's "Hundred Thousand Kingdoms." I didn't quite realise before just how much book news I'm actually getting by paying attention to even a couple of bookblogs.

    Maybe for most people, it takes a while before they realise that a certain book has hit the shelves. Unless they've got connections and read book news and whatnot, they probably don't know about many new releases until they've been on the shelves for a little while. So yeah, I do think we have a bit of a book bubble in the blogosphere. Not that it's a bad thing. Maybe it just means we need to go and make more connections in local bookstores to help spread the word just a little bit further. :p

  9. I think there are bubbles for whatever you are into. My other passion apart from books is crafting and painting. I have virtually given up talking about my excitement when I have success with a new technique or found a particularly fabulous piece of paper that goes with my latest project PEFECTLY to my non-blogger buddies because the eyes just glaze over or worse (usually when ranting has reached epic proportions and I'm covered in paint) they look like they want to have me carted away.

    On the flipside I don't get when they go on about World of Warcraft or Starwars or Playstation 3 games... I think we all get wrapped up in our excitement of what we are into and we forget that everyone else isn't into it too :P

  10. Bubble?! Thaaaaaaaaaat's what this thing is. What do we do with it?

  11. I think there is, that a lot of us get excited about the same books that maybe aren't so big outside. BUT that being said, there was a launch party at my local store with 40 or so kids there which was nice (I'm from a really small town!).

  12. I think you're wrong when you say it has no impact on booksellers. I didn't realise this at one time either, but bookstores make note every time someone requests a book they don't have. If people are going into their stores asking for Mockingjay, not only will the bookstore order copies, they will likely order more of this author in future. There are just a lotta books out there that sell moderately well... way more than a shop could put on their shelves. So it sometimes takes a word from customers for them to notice a particular author or title.

    This is why it's always worthwhile to tell your bookstore if you're looking for a title or author you can't find on their shelves, or call and ask them if they have something. Little things like that can cause a great boost for an author.

  13. I'm with Ole, I hadn't heard of The Hunger Games before it buzzed about Twitter. That might be because I don't follow that many YA blogs, I'm still getting into the whole blogoshpere and living in the Netherlands book buzz here tends to go in way different directions and is always behind.

    So yeah, it might be a bubble, of our own choosing and design, but as Carmen pointed out there are loads of bubbles out there that I'll never get and will never want to be in, while a lot of people I know don't get my SFF bubble!

  14. I don't know, I'm just posing a question. But do you think if the blogging community is quite internet oriented then the titles that excite bloggers may be bought mainly online, which is why booksellers don't carry as many of them?

  15. This is in reply to kaisavage's question: I wouldn't necessarily say that. Yes, a lot of bookbloggers read e-books, and they are quite convenient since you can just download them and start reading them 5 seconds after paying and never once have to leave the comfort of your own home, but a lot of bookbloggers also really enjoy the tactile experience of a real book in our hands. A lot of ARCs are hardcopies of books, too.

    Factor in that while e-book readers are on the rise, not everyone has one yet, and that still leaves a large portion of people who may want to read a book and will have to buy it from a brick-and-mortar store.

    We may be Internet-oriented, but that's more of our medium than our overriding purpose. E-sales may account for some of the shortage, but I think it's more that bookbloggers just keep more up-to-date on the bookish news and so we see the hype before it really hits the general populace. Before I started doing this, I'd maybe keep track of the releases dates for one or two authors, and anything else I found out about by seeing it on bookstore shelves, usually at least a week after the release date. I'm willing to bet that most readers, even ones who consider themselves to be avid readers, go about this in a similar way.

  16. Well, my first introduction to The Hunger Games was through a YA book blog, and it's only gradually penetrated my dense brain in the past few weeks that hey, this is something kind of big. So yes, I do think there is a bit of a bubble.

    However, I also do think that booksellers have a responsibility to be aware of what is going on in the world at large. If you sell books, you should be ready to - if not follow the current trends, at least be aware of them and ready to adapt somewhat to them. Obviously this can be taken too far, as the YA section of one bookstore around here proves. Walking in there, one would think that the ONLY YA books being published these days are vampire-related. I want to shake the person in charge of ordering and say "Hey! There are LOTS of different genres in the YA world; feature some of those for a change."

    In general, though, I do think booksellers should be, at the very least, aware. Unless they all want to fall to Amazon.

  17. Really interesting post.
    I have to confess to not having heard of Mokingjay before this week when Twitter exploded with excitement and I had to go and look the trilogy up on Goodreads to see what the fuss was all about. But there are clearly a lot of people very excited about its release.

    To be honest if you're a book buyer for someone like Waterstones and you're not following book bloggers and booklovers on Twitter to look at what people are loving, then I would suggest you're not doing your job as well as you could be. If the people in the internet bubble love it then surely if they promote it to the rest of their less internet savvy customers it's got to be a win for them?

  18. Well, the Internet is where the excitement is, not the bookstores. I am not happy to say this, but bookstores are going the way of video stores. How many are in your town now?

    Luckily ebooks and Internet ordering and specialty shops will still allow you get the stories that matter--and ultimately the story is the most important thing.

    Scott Nicholson

  19. I had exactly the same thing here. Went into Waterstones expecting huge displays and nothing! I think there is a bit of a bubble, but like someone above said...the bookstores could do well to take notice.

  20. I definitely think there's a bit of a blogger bubble, though I'm not sure it's all that bad. Publishers like that we get all excited about releases because it gives them free publicity. And that's sort of why we exist in the first place - to recommend books. I didn't have a problem finding MOCKINGJAY since I preordered mine off Amazon, but I think it's easier to find US titles stateside. A lot of times, releases internationally come slower. :/ But it goes both ways. There were quite a few UK books I wanted pronto that I had to wait forever to get.

  21. Must be your area. I live in Portland, Oregon, and we had huge displays (and ppl in the store in front of me were buying copies) of Mockingjay. That was true at Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Powells Books.

    Maybe the local book stores in your area are foolishly out of the loop! =0