Is book-blogging-minus-book-reviews ruining book-blogging ?

imagesThe other day I read a book blogger’s musings about the very discouraging reader engagement for book reviews in contrast to non-review content which seems to have become almost a must-have to bring readers to your book blog in the first place . Otherwise , the book blogger might as well write in his / her  personal diary – forget about reader engagement with the content , the post does not get any clicks .

As several other book bloggers have pointed out repeatedly , today book blogs minus book reviews have become a trend . If they do have reviews , they are the some 5 or 6 lines about a book – the mini-reviews . Almost every review reads like the one before : ” It was unputdownable…” , ” I stopped in my tracks when I finally came to the big reveal – you would’ve have never seen it coming… ” . There are too many adjectives and adverbs in these mini-reviews  : ( almost ) nothing original but still there just to enforce upon the readers the intensity of the reviewer’s reactions , I think .

Mini reviews are somewhat okay but there is one book-blogging fad which I have not taken to ( & will never ) : the book-tags . I have never gotten the idea behind book tags . Somebody please enlighten me about putting out a list of books / writing about bookish elements which fit a particular tagline . You may identify your fandom tribe and can have gush about your favorite series all over again . That’s how far book-tags go for me . I haven’t picked up a single book yet after reading book tags .

In today’s blogosphere , with too many wannabe-writers / hobbyists competing with each other for the readers’ engagement with their content , it’s only natural that many book bloggers are turning to the easy-content-with-high-reader-engagement to bring in the numbers . I myself have put 2 compilation posts in this blog and vouch for it being a blog-saver : The blog was languishing and I was not reading much to review it here . At-least these recommendations posts let people know that I haven’t shut shop . Now , after 3 months of my first ever reading – slump , I am back .

But , I regretted each time I put out some filler content like that .

I don’t see mini-reviews / book tags / listicles ( basically , several of the recent fads in book-blogging culture ) as being of much value ( forget about the literary value ) to the readers . Sure , people may pick up books from your list but I believe that nothing can take the place of a proper book review – a review which dissects the various aspects of the book : the themes , the characterization , the plot , the storytelling . The in – depth reviews offer the reader / would-be reader an idea about what to look for in the book and encourage them to read better . The mini – reviews / book recommendation posts most often read like those blurbs written by the book’s promotion team – the blogger’s ultimate goal is to pique the reader’s interest . Still better , if they make them pick up that book . But , is it the purpose of blogging about books ? Aren’t the book bloggers supposed to be facilitating better reading of books by having discussions around the books they have read / full-fledged reviews about their reads ?

I believe that nothing can take the place of a proper book review – a review which dissects the various aspects of the book : the themes , the characterization , the plot , the storytelling . The in – depth reviews offer the reader / would-be reader an idea about what to look for in the book and encourage them to read better .

But , is making the readers pick up the book after reading your mini-reviews , the sole purpose of blogging about books ? Aren’t the book bloggers supposed to be facilitating better reading of books by having discussions around the books they have read / full-fledged reviews about their reads ?

As important influencers among the reading tribe , I think that every book blogger should ensure that their blogs carry more literary content than fad / filler content . As an analogy , while we are concerned about the quality of reporting these days with more of click-bait headlines ( basically all celeb stuff and all other fluff ) rather than THE IMPORTANT STUFF that make it to our online news-feed , let us also get concerned about the content our book blogs carry . Because , in this digital age of short attention-span / need for eye-ball grabbing stuff like GIF s to actually entice the readers into clicking the link to your post / availability of encyclopedic proportions of information on every random topic , giving the readers all this fad stuff would only further contribute to the growth this culture of mindless consumption of anything they read .

I think it is the time for the book-bloggers to remedy this mindless consumption by putting out content that would open the readers’ eyes to the various aspects of the book being reviewed and help them to identify these aspects in their own current reads . And , it won’t hurt the reader to read some proper reviews without all the distracting fluff like GIF s , memes . When readers get to read more quality content like good discussion posts / book reviews online , they would demand quality content every time , in turn making us book-bloggers  read better . Currently , our production of all these fluffy content has shaped their book-blogs’ experience , in turn forcing us to keep churning out more of this useless content and it definitely wouldn’t do for us to hold the reader accountable for the content we post on our blogs .

I think it’s high time that book bloggers had a good look at their content and ” fads ” they are encouraging .

As an analogy , while we are concerned about the quality of reporting these days  , with more of click-bait headlines ( basically all celeb stuff and all other fluff ) rather than THE IMPORTANT STUFF that make it to our online news-feed , let us also get concerned about the content our book blogs carry .

In this digital age of short attention-span / need for eye-ball grabbing stuff like GIF s to actually entice the readers into clicking the link to your post / availability of encyclopedic proportions of information on every random topic , giving the readers all this fad stuff would only further contribute to the growth this culture of mindless consumption .

Let me know your thoughts about this post in the comments section below . I would like to hear about what do you feel about the trend of book-blogging- minus-book-reviews? Are you taking to it well or are you like me ? Also share your thoughts on the book blogging elements I have termed as fads or fluff-content…

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Types of Quorans

I signed up for Quora in July 2016. I would have made a reference to it in one of the posts. The Quora that I signed up for was a knowledge-sharing platform. During the early days, it was a social media platform with a difference – you read even if your book reading took a backseat with all the deadlines and most importantly, read about things that matter. The title speaks for itself. So let’s get started…

       Storytellers:

These are the guys who have a story for every question they answer. As we know people tell stories in their way and so the storyteller tag itself is a generalization.

           Just for Laughs Only storytellers:

               Warning: Read at your own risk in office as these answers will crack you up and you would definitely get some weird looks if it happens too often. Or if you are the kind of person who can always manage a placid smile , then you can go ahead.

These guys are probably cousins to the Facebook meme creators. They ace the art of telling stories in a rib-tickling way and rival the stand-up comedians with their narrative spiced with puns and definitely their own unique style of writing. Any question they choose to answer should have a story and most importantly should be told so that the readers have a good laugh. When the answer nails these two factors, it automatically rakes the upvotes. For those who are for Laughter is the best medicine, when you cannot go for Facebook or Twitter, you can go for Quora also now.

       Enlightened storytellers:

These guys are the ones who have graduated from the first category. They have finally realized that you don’t have to make the reader smile or LOL with every story and that there are other stories also to be told for some answers-inspiring personal stories, personal stories that sometimes reveal about the person with the “popular Quoran” tag whom several try to emulate (definitely) and most importantly about inspiring people whom many of us have very little idea or no idea about .Whatever story they tell they make the reader sit through it to the very end. When the reader finishes reading the answer, it leaves the reader with questions/new insights or pondering about the opinions put forth. Whatever their answers do, the readers have a takeaway from each answer. The stories cannot be simply categorized-they know which story should be told for any question.

Some of them have been very honest about their journey from being a JFL storyteller just to establish a good follower base to telling stories that need to be told today. The answers that are introspective about the journey and setting new goals by some of the really honest guys are as good as motivational blogs and TED talks. These people show how to do things when they write those answers.

      Masked storytellers

          Not all heard stories are easy to digest for the readers. We can only imagine about other stories which we have not heard.

I have seen several anonymous answers raking upvotes and helpful comments by the awesome Quora community (not meaning to sound insensitive) than the stories which identifies the writer.

Their stories drill the hard fact that all good things in life will not be handed to you in a platter sometimes. You have to beat the odds to reach where you want to. A few answers are people who are still struggling but very optimistic that they will make it.Some answers would make you wish you knew that person and heard the story from their own mouth. These guys are the ones who have bounced forward. The society, their family circumstances, their failures-nothing shakes/shook them. They take/have taken things in their stride.

Another set of answers are written by people who want to unburden themselves about some harrowing experiences in life which they wouldn’t confide even to those closest to them for the fear of being judged/sparing their loved ones the pain which they suffer constantly. The Quora community reaches out to these people which encouraging words and I have seen several of these storytellers coming up with Edits about how those words have been consoling and they are looking forward to moving on.Some have gone to write about bouncing back in the Edits.

The Mentor

These writers were probably Adam D’ Angelo’s target audience when he together with Charlie Cheever came up with the idea of Quora.

They painstakingly write quite lengthy but super-informative answers on how-to-learn or choosing-between-X-or-Y or about complex concepts and several others questions beginners have in a particular field. Some of them actually substantiate their answers with stats and a bonus of list of reference links for more info/tools for learning/links for courses. A single answer can provide a wealth of information and give a head-start for the reader’s learning journey. Several of them give the tips & tricks they followed during their learning phase too.

I specially love those writers who narrate the story of their learning journey with all the mistakes they made (which the reader had also made/might be making) and most importantly, how they got back on track which serves for reassuring the beginners that perseverance pays off when some beginners feel anxious about getting stuck in learning-plateaus (I was one of those beginners…So special mention about these answers).

The Prime Time Debate Panelist:

As the country which drives the highest traffic to Quora, this is an exclusively Indian thing. The Quorans who write about India’s current political scenario are divided into two camps. No wonders there-there are no-so-healthy discussions in the comments sections or tongue-in-cheek answers about why the other camp has got it wrong completely. It becomes really ugly only when people specially from the camp that is critical about the Government write anonymously and begin their answer with the explanation-I am one step from getting banned. Some of the “not-so popular” but definitely bold writers from the camp have got banned. So, the seasoned political critic has to resort to this safety measure so that another dissenting voice is not banned from putting forth his/her opinions.

I believe that people of a free democratic state have the freedom of speech. It becomes a joke when we can make Trump jokes and Brexit jokes but cannot see what has happened at the home front. The current Government is honest enough to set the example for their Digital India campaign when every minister in the Cabinet is active on the social media like Facebook and Twitter. But, Quora is a different social media platform-questions will be asked and dissenting comments with solid facts for which the Minister has to come up with an convincing reply much like their “epic tweets”. Quora does not need their presence-their faithful followers in Twitter and Facebook are doing their job. So, why worry? With all honesty, one camp has an unfair advantage over the other like in most of the prime time debates on Indian news channels.

With several non-Indians hinting about their feeds monopolized by questions about The Great Indian Socio-Political and Economic scenario (one guy was frank enough to suggest that India should have its own Quora) where we would probably be able to thrash another writer’s opinions from the opposite camp without any fear about moderation from Quora. Well, rules can be relaxed as user experience matters and most importantly user engagement.

The Avid reader

The one who reads and reads but doesn’t write much and upvotes good answers. Quora freshers are in awe of the “popular Quorans” and even a comment from one of them, for one answer makes them ecstatic. You need to see some of their replies!! The fandom reaction for anything a “popular Quoran” does is becoming somewhat of fandom reaction for celebs.These are the most underrated guys very understandably but these guys also drive a good amount of traffic to the site and most importantly, make the writers write often and better.

Today the platform for “gaining and sharing knowledge” is just another social media platform. Quora follower-base is just like Facebook’s Friends list and Twitter followers. The stats say that India drives the largest traffic to Quora (33.3%) compared with 26.5% from US. But we don’t need the stats-we see it everyday. Now, Quora has become another in-fad platform that Indians have to try out. Quora has become a platform where every wannabe writer practices writing and there are too many of those answers that are written only for raking upvotes and every other reason except sharing knowledge and even for really interesting questions the answer is in the Indian context . My Quora feed has no variety and is flooded with answers on select number of topics when there are a wide range of topics. Click here for the full list of topics on Quora. The Quora follower-base has given them bragging rights because ” Brainy is the new sexy”. I think it’s the beginning of Quora becoming another Facebook/Twitter because this is what we Quorans get to see everytime nowadays

 

  • You upvoted this answer on this topic and so we bring you more answers on this topic.
  • You have answered questions under this topic and so read other answers on this topic
  • You can “discover new topics” with a list of related topics with the names of the “popular Quorans” you are following who are following those topics
  • Notifications like XYZ upvoted this answer after seeing your upvote

To gain an edge over its competitor Q & A sites Adam D’Angelo made sure Quora had the crowd-pulling features of both Facebook and Twitter. The Quora blogs feature is just taking things too far-Its like Lenka singing

All I wanna be
Is everything

Everything at once

By now, you can guess which category I fall into. I was also into honing my writing skills when I signed up for Quora but eventually I was not interested to enter into a rat-race that people where making Quora writing to be. I am still mostly answering A2As about book recommendations and anything on literature and some interesting questions in random topics.If you are wondering if I am still reading Quora-Yes, I read but mostly answers by the last two Quoran writers and sometimes stories by the last two kinds of storytellers.