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.