why people think book bloggers shouldn’t get paid

Since book Twitter’s most recent discourse about the ethics of paid reviews, I’ve been thinking a lot about WHY people don’t think that book bloggers should get paid. This discussion has happened over and over again, as has the discussion about book bloggers being undervalued, and I think it’s important to look at why this is.

Lately, I’ve been thinking back to one of the other things about book bloggers that has been discussed many times around conferences and conventions: book bloggers and ARCs. Book bloggers have a terrible reputation at cons because we’re seen as ARC hoarders. However, on the flip side, people tell us that we should be grateful to get a free copy of a book as compensation.

People have debated many solutions to the “ARC stealing” book blogger problem, including starting some sort of “professional” organization to prove your worth as a blogger. This suggestion came about one year because a YA writer who I will not name said that “anyone can be a blogger.” This made me super angry at the time and I think after many years have passed since then I’ve finally figured out why (and I promise it’s related to why people don’t think bloggers should be paid!):

Book blogging can, in fact, be done by ANYONE. It’s not like booktube or bookstagram, where you honestly do need lots of expensive equipment, millions of books, or at least photo editing skills that come with an access to software to learn it or advanced computer knowledge that people get from having computer access. Blogging, in contrast, is the most ACCESSIBLE form of book promotion that exists. All you need is a computer and the ability to write content. There are many free, user-friendly platforms to use to blog, even if you’re new at it. You don’t HAVE to put pretty photos of your own books on a blog. Blogging is FOR EVERYONE, and there needs to be a platform that you don’t have to be wealthy to use.

And I think that is the crux of the issue when it comes to paying bloggers. Because blogging is so accessible, people think it means it’s just a hobby and not worthy of being monetized. Some people don’t even have blogging expenses, so it’s easy to subconsciously think that because of that, bloggers don’t NEED to be paid like booktubers or bookstagrammers who require large numbers of physical copies of books, equipment, and video or photo editing software subscriptions.

So really, the issue of why people think book bloggers shouldn’t get paid comes down to elitism. Because book blogging is accessible, it’s not seen as “serious” or “professional.” Obviously, those things are not true, because blogging also takes a lot of time and effort to put out good content. People see platforms like booktube as more of a “job,” while blogging is seen as something less serious and therefore less valuable, even though that is certainly not the case.

Unfortunately, I do not have a solution to pose on how to make people see the value of bloggers. We have all said again and again that we are the reason the book community exists, but it often feels like shouting into the void. I also don’t know if I see things improving, because the book community seems to be turning to these more visual platforms as their primary means of book promotion. Still, I hope that one day, people from across book community platforms will realize we all want the same thing: to share and talk about books, and maybe, someday, we’ll ALL promote both books and each other.

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quarantine book haul

I have been meaning to write this post since kind of mostly coming out of quarantine (even though I still only go into work every other week for social distancing purposes, so I’m still in half-quarantine) and TODAY IS THE DAY. I will be sharing my book haul from my quarantine months, which lasted for me from March-July, and tell you a bit about each book, what made me buy it, if I’ve actually read it, etc.

Willow was very interested in my quarantine books photo shoot and he was so cute I decided to include him in the book haul pics. Notice how he is VERY interested in THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES. It was probably because of the birds.

Willow is a curious boy.

BOOK OF THE MONTH PICKS:

I got 3 BOTM books over quarantine: Beach Read by Emily Henry, The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon, and Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein. I was excited about all because I thought I was in the mood for romance.

BEACH READ is about two rival writers who switch genres due to writer’s block and a bet and go on various dates to help each other write their books. I tried this one, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get into the drama of it, and I hated January (the MC’s) best friend, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

THE BOYFRIEND PROJECT is about a woman who goes viral after a public call out of a three-timing, scamming boyfriend and swears off men and decides to pursue her dream of creating an app instead. I did like this one initially, and probably would enjoy it, but the middle got really slow and the tension between them happened too early for the lack of action.

HEAD OVER HEELS is about a once Olympic-gymnast hopeful who returns to her hometown and accepts a job training another aspiring Olympian when a scandal breaks out. This book is based on the sexual assault scandal that broke out about the Olympic physician a while back, and I thought I could handle it, but honestly, I didn’t want to read about it. The MC is also super depressed for the majority of the book and that was challenging to read as well. I also thought the technical stuff about gymnastics was interesting at first, but eventually, I skimmed the paragraphs long descriptions of Hallie’s floor routine because I had no idea what the author was describing.

Cedar also joined.

BOOKSHOP BUYS

I discovered Bookshop over quarantine and bought a bunch of books from Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago because it is a Black-run business. I bought 6 books from them: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron, You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha, and The Crown Ain’t Worth Much by Hanif Abdurraqib.

CINDERELLA IS DEAD was one of my most anticipated 2020 books, a continuation/retelling of Cinderella 200 years after the original story, and it was AMAZING. I started YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN, another most-anticipated, but I wasn’t in the mood for it at the time so I’m going to come back to it.

Willow wants me to read BOSAS

Booktube videos also convinced me to try THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES even though I wasn’t initially interested in it. I almost reread the whole original HG trilogy, but I got about 1/3 through CATCHING FIRE when I realized it was a bit too similar to the real world for me to want to read. However, I still fully intend to read BOSAS.

I also bought a poetry collection, THE CROWN AIN’T WORTH MUCH, because my partner follows the author on Twitter and got me interested in reading his work. I haven’t read it yet.

Booktube (specifically Monica Kim) convinced me to branch out of my comfort zone to try IF I HAD YOUR FACE, which is set in Seoul and follows I believe 4 very different women and deconstructs Korean beauty standards. I have not read this yet.

Willow is still very determined to open BOSAS

Finally, I simply HAD to buy the THREE DARK CROWNS series after I at long last read my eARC from an embarrassing amount of years ago. I love this series so much and love all the characters except Mirabella, who is dry as unbuttered toast. I have managed to read the first three in the series, and am so scared for my faves in the finale, FIVE DARK FATES.

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