Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Eight Questions about the State and Future of Book Blogging

In the run-up the Book Blogger Convention on Friday, I've been writing a series of posts about various aspects of book blogging. This is the last in that series, and a list of the earlier entries can be found in the first few sentences of this previous post. Thanks for reading. 

In 1925, W.E.B Du Bois, worried that African American art had strayed from the goal of social justice, sent a questionnaire to influential authors and publishers. In it, he asked them a series of questions about what they thought African American arts and letters should be about.

He must have been quite disappointed. Rather than affirm his own belief that African American art should be propaganda for African American equality, most of the respondents argued for the freedom of the artist to follow whatever path their “genius” desired.

But then Du Bois did a fairly remarkable thing; he published the responses in his magazine, Crisis. All of them. To my knowledge he never wrote about them, he quietly printed them over the course of a year and let his essay “The Criteria of Negro Art,” speak for him.

I’ve always admired Du Bois for this; he asked hard questions and didn’t duck the answers, perhaps realizing that the conversation was just as important as the subject.

It’s in this spirit that I’d invite you to respond to a series of questions about book blogging; these questions are meant to kindle conversation as much as they are to arrive at anything like answers.

If you’d like to respond in the comments, please do so. If you’d like to respond on your own blog, please let me know and I’ll link it up here. If you would like to run your responses as a guest post here at The Reading Ape, I would be thrilled to run it, just let me know at readingape AT gmail DOT com.

Here are the questions:

1. What does book blogging do best?
2. If you write a book blog, why do you?
3. What do you think the future of book blogging is?
4. What do your favorite book bloggers do?
5. If you could tell all book bloggers one thing, what would it be?
6. If you could change one thing about book blogging, what would it be?
7. How do you think book blogging fits into the reading landscape?
8. What about your own book blogging would you like to do better/differently?


Ken at The Ken
Ellen at Fat Books, Thin Women
Mummazappa at The Book Nerd Club
Reader's Quest
What Red Read
She Treads Softly
Ben at Dead End Follies
Nicole at Bibliographing
Jillian at A Room of One's Own
Every Book and Cranny
Falcata Times

Buy books mentioned in this post (or anything else, actually) using the below links, and The Reading Ape gets a small referral fee to defray our nominal operating costs.


  1. I seldom blog about books, but when I do they are books that I find merit more than my usual review for Authorlink. They are books that touch me in some way or spark a conversation or rant that might find similar responses elsewhere, even when the responses are negative.

    As for book blogging, it is and should be about the blogger's reaction and response to a particular book, promoting those books that s/he feels should be promoted or spark a debate. What book blogging does best is showcase the pros and cons of a book and the author and point to similar work by other authors, or simply demonstrate why, or why not, the book merits the post. Book blogging is and should always be about the blogger's personal preferences and dislikes with at least some bow to the reasons behind the prejudice for or against. With so many people cruising the internet, book blogs provide what face to face conversations once provide, dialogue about books and authors and the subjects they cover.

  2. Nice. My answers are up at http://fatbooks.org/2011/05/25/the-state-and-future-of-book-blogging/

    -- Ellen

  3. Very interesting again! You can read my answers at my blog here


  4. I've also posted my answers on my blog:

    Thanks for asking, Ape. I'm enjoying your thought-provoking posts.

  5. I've loved all your posts around this topic and I hope these questions bring up even more conversations.

    I put my answers on my blog here! What Red Read: Why do we (book) blog?

  6. I'll answer here because I expect my answers to be relatively short. :)
    1. Promotes reading culture.
    2. My blog isn't really about books, but I occasionally write about what I read, in my own way, because I want to share my opinion, if anyone is ever interested in reading it.
    3. I'm afraid it might get a bit driven by the publishing industry and all free books they give and promote through blogs. But I see many book bloggers keeping their opinions no matter what, so I guess that will get separated.
    4. Include personal tidbits and aren't afraid of reading books people scoff at.
    5. Stay true to your opinion and please take care of grammar. :)
    6. I don't really know. I think publishers shouldn't be so exclusively oriented to US and UK markets, I feel neglected when there are give-aways.
    7. I think it promotes reading as it makes people get a usually unbiased opinion on books they are interested in.
    8. I wish I could discuss books more intelligently, I feel I'm more into why I like it than what are the actual literary book merits.

  7. http://www.deadendfollies.com/2011/05/dancing-with-apes-eight-questions-about.html


  8. Thanks, I think everyone is linked up in the body of the post now too.

  9. Are you going to respond to these? :-)

    I responded here:


  10. You've generated an interesting discussion here and I've enjoyed reading all the various perspectives and thinking about my own. I posted a response on my blog:

    Eight Questions from The Reading Ape.

  11. Good questions! One I'd especially like to answer is, "If you could change one thing about book blogging, what would it be?"

    The change I'd make is: All book bloggers would post their standards and policies about such things is what kinds of books they review and whether they accept galleys or review copies from publishers and, if so, whether they sell they sell the books after the review appears. The "Review Policy" page on the blog Beth Fish Reads provides a good model for anyone who wants to do this.