Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Marketing and Blogging
Book editors receive tens of thousands of review copies every year and have to calculate the number and kind of books they can fit into precious shrinking pages. 275,232 books were published in the U.S. in 2008, according to statistics released in May by Bowker, the famous bibliographical information company. The top five categories were:
1. Fiction (47,541 new titles)
2. Juveniles (29,438)
3. Sociology/Economics (24,423)
4. Religion (16,847)
5. Science (13,555)
Yet there's no more Washington Post Book World. No more L.A. Times Book Review. These newspapers still print daily reviews, but many fewer.
So many books, so little space.
No wonder publicists turn to bloggers.
Bloggers sell books. Are there statistics? Over the years, I've bought books recommended by countless bloggers, and sold a few myself.
Case in point: Bloomsbury is reissuing the light and charming Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D. E. Stevenson as a result of reading Frisbee. (They dropped in to tell us.) Fabulous! That’s what we love to do: spread the word about books.
But will I receive a review copy when it’s published? Dubious. I don’t live in the UK, I've already reviewed the book, and I can’t be much use to them, except for occasional recommendations of out-of-print books. On the other hand, Bloomsbury novels like Poppy Shakespeare and The Spy Game have delighted me. So we’re kind of even already.
Bloggers often step in where a professional book review editor fears to tread: the space is free and their own, so they don't have to write about the latest books. Often they're talking about reprints and library books.
I buy most of my books (I just bought and reviewed A Short History of Women, and bought and will review Monica Ali’s In the Kitchen). I’ve had to build my own collection of out-of-print books and classics. (In other words, Penguin and Oxford World Classics have yet to send me their complete set of books - or any books.)
I occasionally receive review copies from publishers.
I have one question for my fellow bloggers, though - and I respect them, so don't take this the wrong way. Why, when they write about a review copy, do they feel compelled to preface their blogs with fulsome statements like: “I just found in the mail a copy of A Short History of Women from Scribners and I was ecstatic, because Kate Walbert is on my list of 10 Writers to Read Before I Die, and Ann Packer wrote a blurb...” No, It’s not that bad. But it is bewildering. It somehow makes it sound like: a) the blogger is insecure and worried about ethics, because she’s receiving gifts and advertising the publishers, or b) hoping that if she praises the book enough, maybe they’ll send a book that she REALLY wants.
I find the tone confusing, to say the least. Are we marketing, or blogging?
It's really better not to mention it. Do professional book reviewers, as opposed to bloggers, write, ““Love and kisses, Scribners" or "Random House, thanks again!" No, it’s pointless.
I know that's not what my favorite bloggers mean - I hope not - but it's weird...
No one else complains about this, however...
Posted by Frisbee at 6:56 PM