Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Blogger Convention 2010: One Primate's Reactions

As promised, here are some quick thoughts about the 2010 Book Blogger Convention:

  • Keynote speaker and young adult Maureen Johnson was really entertaining. If I were a 12 year old girl, I would be racing out to get her books. I have to admit though that I'm not sure I learned much about blogging from it, but clearly the young adult bloggers got a kick out of it. 
  • Ron Hogan, who runs Beatrice, was fantastic and I would have sat and listened to him all day. I have been reading Beatrice for more than a decade now, and he really is a pioneer of lit-blogging. Passionate, erudite, and encouraging stuff from him. Highlight of the day for the Ape, by far. Rumor has it he will be posting his presentation on Beatrice next week, so watch for that.
  • I could have taken or left the panels (and indeed I did jet before the final one). I don't feel like I got anything out of them that I didn't looking at the panelists' blogs beforehand. Supremely nice and committed people, but that's why I read many of their blogs. 
  • Biggest cheer of the day was for this line from Ron Hogan: "The war between critics and bloggers is over. And the bloggers won."
  • Another spontaneous round of applause for NetGalley, of which I had never heard. Looks promising and we're going to give it a whirl. 
  • The "keep doing what you're doing" and "be yourself" advice was ascendent. What if what you're currently doing sucks?
  • Really happy group of attendees. We haven't been blogging long, but we can imagine how gratifying it was for people to meet in person after having years-long online relationships. It's hard to imagine a kinder, more congenial group of folks. Maybe kindergarten teachers.
  • That said, the day felt a little self-congratulatory, though that's perhaps to be expected. This is the first one of these, and the excitement over the existence of the event itself propelled a lot of the energy of the day. Affirmation is necessary of course, but we're hard-pressed to say what we'll be doing differently around here as a result of what we heard.
  • Random helpful tidbit: One publicist said to think of review copies as "for consideration" not "for review." That is, you should feel okay if you don't review a book you've been given. This sentiment was echoed by a couple of other publicists, along with an exhortation to pass the book along to someone else, really anyone else, if you don't review it. Or even if you do.
  • Book bloggers love and want review copies. I might be wrong, but I think if they get no other material recompense for their efforts, a few ARCs would be enough. I love this about book bloggers--the books are the thing. 
  • Mixed approaches to blog statistics. No one, including publishers and publicists, really knows how to gauge a blog's reach and influence with anything like accuracy. General consensus seemed to be to monitor your stats and use general trends rather than individual numbers. If your numbers are going up, great. If they are flat to down, maybe try some new things. 
  • Use RSS. And full feeds. Don't screw around with this, just do it. Oh, how I wish you would listen McSweeney's.
  • It might be selection bias, but the publishers in attendance seemed more than willing to work with book bloggers with interviews, tours, review copies, etc. The HarperPerennial folks were pretty tuned in. 
  • Twitter seems to be the social media platform of choice, outpacing Facebook by a considerable margin as far as we can tell; it definitely was interesting to follow the live-tweeting, and do some ourselves, of the day.
  • Not sure who said it (someone let me know if you remember because I'd like to give them proper due), but my favorite idea of the day was for book bloggers to consider themselves "book activists." We nodded vigorously.
  • Couple of things we'd like to see next year: small group sessions, a presenter or panel on blog design, something about advertising and affiliate programs, a presentation from a publisher who works with bloggers directly, an overview of the history, present and future of book-blogging (OK, we'll admit it: we just want more Ron Hogan), and, most of all, we'd like to see there be a next year. 

Thanks to all those who put this thing together; I think you've started something good here. 

Oh, and if you're here on the Book Blogger Hop, well....welcome. Thanks to Jenn at Crazy for Books as always for hosting. 


  1. Thanks for the run-down on the BBC Ape. I'm hoping to be there next year, but there was some good take-away from your post;)

  2. I have to agree with you. The first two presentations were good. But the later ones didn't offer too much.

  3. Thanks for the BBCon report. Were there any roving (raving) podcasters or people with handy cams around? Would love to see/hear some multimedia from the event.

    As you know, this year I can only watch from very afar -given that I live in outback Australia. Next year, we are planning to be in the US specially for BEA and the BBCon -although I have to admit that the thought of going to New York scares me witless!

  4. Thanks for the kind words -- I was honored to be a part of this inaugural BookBloggerCon, and I've already let the organizers know I'm ready to come back next year with an all-new show!

  5. Biblio- My guess is that next year will really take off.

    Bookangel- Yea, a couple of interesting points, but maybe it was that there were too many people on each panel?

    Amanda- There's nothing to be scared of. I've lived here 10 years and am hardly a tough. You'll be fine.

    Ron- Looking forward to it. Thanks for dropping by here.

  6. It was nice meeting you at the conference, Ape. Your suggestions for next year are similar to mine: I'd especially love to have some break out sessions that allow more interaction. And to hear more from Ron Hogan, who was a real highlight.

    @Amanda, I love visiting NY from quiet Maine and hope you'll enjoy the city as much as I do!

  7. Thanks for your comment about "be yourself" - I was one of the panelists who said that and in retrospect could have done a much better job of explaining what I mean by that - what we say on a panel often becomes a sound-bite rather than suggestion/advise with substance.

    I'll be writing more detail about what my stance and what that means later this week and will address the concept and what to do if "what you're doing sucks" in relation to it.

  8. Christina- That would be great. Looking forward to your ideas.

  9. Great recaps from BEA and the Book Blogger Con. I wish I could have been there myself but am interested in hearing everyone's take.

  10. I enjoyed reading through your take on the Book Blogger Convention. I, myself, didn't really appreciate Ron Hogan very much but it was good to hear your perspective.

    I had to leave early so I missed the part about a book being "considered for review" instead of "for review." Glad you wrote that down! Good to hear!

    - Carrie, 5 Minutes for Books

  11. What a GREAT summary of Friday.

    I have always considered review copies (especially unsolicited ones) "for consideration," but it was awesome to hear publishers and PR folks say that.

    I've been a member of NetGalley, but still don't feel like I need to use it. I need to take some time to figure it out.

  12. Well you left before my panel, so luckily no words about how I couldn't remember the questions my brain was so dead exhausted. :P

    I agree re: break-out sessions! I think there's been a lot of valuable feedback and next year can only be better! :)

  13. Carrie-
    A lot of people thought the review/considered for review distinction was helpful.

    Yea, I've now signed up for NetGalley. Signed up and no idea what to do with it.

    I think it was a format issue with the panels. So a community that is so used to interaction on-line, a "panel" doesn't seem to fit. Not that I know what would be better. Maybe have a shorter presentation by one or two people and then break into random groups for discussion of what was presented. Just spitballing here.