Does Seeing a Book Everywhere Make You Want To Read It?

BlogHer Original Post

Everyone loves books but  I thought this was the dullest photo i had ever taken. I guess not.Imagine you see a book mentioned on a blog. The blogger loved it and they made it sound interesting. You make a note of the title with plans to check out the book later. Then you see it on another blog. And then another one. And another one. It becomes apparent that a whole bunch of people have read it all at the same time and are talking about it at the same time. Does that make you want to see out the book more? If you are me, it probably doesn't.

Whether or not seeing a book reviewed on a bunch of blogs pushes my interest depends on a lot of factors. Have the bloggers all planned to read the book together? A bunch of book bloggers got together a few years ago to read Middlemarch and I thought that was pretty cool. Last fall Chrisbookarama hosted a readalong for The Princess Bride. That was awesome. (Let's be honest, the thought of anything involving The Princess Bride not being awesome is simply inconceivable.)

Then there are of course books that pop up seasonally. October is a popular month for reading spooky tales, and I'm never surprised to see a bunch of reviews for Dracula pop up on blogs. Anytime a big book release comes up, something akin to a new Harry Potter novel or even a new Nora Roberts, I'd be surprised not to see posts about it come up all over the place. If a movie is coming out that is based on a book, I expect to see plenty of reviews of that book as people rush to read it before seeing the movie.

Those are all things that can peak my interest. The type of book blog bonanza that doesn't is the concentrated effort to build up buzz about a new book. Let me give you an example of what I mean. A couple of years ago there was a book that started making the rounds. I saw it on a couple of blogs before the release date. That's pretty common as many bloggers get advance reading copies. As the release date got close, I saw it on more blogs. After it was released it was on even more blogs. Then I started seeing giveaways for the book. Then those people read it and blogged about it. At first my interest was piqued, but it eventually started to feel like the book blogosphere was a big commercial for this one book.

That is not to say that I think that the bloggers who read and reviewed this book were not being honest when they said they liked the book. I stand by their integrity. The problem wasn't with what any one voice was saying it; it was the number of voices and the volume that they created. I just searched my feedreader for references to this book and I got over 70 entries. The number of book blogs is currently about one-third of what it used to be. I'd expect the number to be at least couple that if my book feeds were at full strength. Added into that, the vast majority of the reviews that I saw for that title were not purchased. They were mostly review copies that bloggers received or won in giveaways. Hardly anyone actually purchased the book.

I had considered buying the book, or at least getting it from the library. People really did enjoy it and it I was interested. Until I saw it pop up for the twentieth and then thirtieth time. At that point I just wanted to stick a fork in my eye. The Story Siren wrote a post about it recently in which she called this the hype monster. While a certain amount of hype can pull people toward a book, it can also push people away.

The highly anticipated book! You know what I’m talking about. These books go through the nines.... they are primped and promoted. Not only by the publishers but by readers and bloggers.

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I heard how wonderful it was... I was witness to the “HYPE” and honestly, all that hype made me not want to read the novel even more.

As much as I love authors, and I believe authors have to work at selling their books, they can also play a role in this. Authors have to promote their books but sometimes they cross a line between self-promotion -- a necessary act -- to engaging in what Sue Anne from Inkspot calls "blatant self-poisoning."

I’d seen the author’s personal promotional campaign myself. If you spent any time on the Internet, it was impossible to miss. Blogs, digests, social networking – you name it, the author was there hawking the book over and over like a cure for cancer. I’d read so much about it, at times I felt I’d already read the book itself. Which leads me to wonder if, like my friend, I should even bother.

I know exactly how she feels. There are books that I haven't read but I can have pretty in-depth conversations about them before they are everywhere. At a certain point it becomes almost redundant to read the book and so I shy away. I turn my attention to the rest of the books in my pile. I might get back to that heavily promoted book someday a few years down the road.

How do you feel about highly promoted books? Does the hype make you want to read them?

Contributing Editor Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

Photo Credit: boltron | Original for BlogHer

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