Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Changing Face of Book Blogging

In a few days I will have been blogging for 4 years! It is really hard to believe. I was supposedly doing my blog reading either, though, and I got to thinking about how blogging is a lot different now than it was four years ago. For starters, there are a lot more bloggers now than there were when I started! I just read the blogs in my blog roll on my sidebar. I didn't need fancy programs to keep up with everything. Now, I could probably read about twice the amount of blogs that I do now and would still not visit everyone. I am going through a period now where I am marking all as read more than doing any blog reading. It's a bit sad, really.

Then, there are the bloggers that don't blog anymore. It's sad.

When I started blogging there were really no review copies of books. Now, there is a feature called Mailbox Monday and I see people receive like 20 books in the mail and a lot of them are review copies. I remember how excited I was when publishing companies started contacting me to review for them. I still very rarely contact them. (Although, I did contact Penguin Canada, but that was an exception!) Reviewing books is a nice aspect of book blogging. I read a lot and my finances are not really of the type where I can afford to buy everything I read... So, it has helped me a great deal! This year I re-added the library to the mix, too. Review copies of books are a lot of fun, though. I get so excited when I get books in the mail. It is like Christmas!

It does bother me when new blogs either start up just to receive review books or they have been blogging for about a month and expect large quantities of review books. I honestly think reviewing books should be earned. That is my personal opinion, though.

On the review copy theme, there are now things like Blog Tours and companies that set up blogging tours. That is a very new thing. I do admit that sometimes I find Blog Tours tedious. I don't mind if it is spread out over a month, but one book being reviewed on several blogs all on the same day drives me crazy! If it is spread out over a period of time I will read the various reviews, but if you slam me with same review over and over again on one day I can pretty much guarantee that I stop reading after a while! There are exceptions. There is new thing called the Classics Circuit (I don't have the URL handy) and I think it is so cool! I mean, blog tours for dead authors is a fun idea, really.

Another thing that brings to mind is Reading Challenges. I remember when there were only a couple reading challenges. I remember me and my blogging friends at the time having unofficial ones every so often and Carl's challenges have been around as long as I have, but now, now it is just insane! I join them, yes, but I am starting to get a bit afraid of them. There are so many it is a bit over-whelming. I join too many, but there are still so many I could join... Just as scary is the amount that some of you join. I think I have too many, but I am small potatoes compared to other people!

All this really is leading up to me hating the fact that blogging is not always fun. There have been big... debates... this year about various issues. I feel like an outsider because I really don't care and very rarely say things, but I do hate that the issues have to be there. I think I will leave it at that. The last thing I want to do is stir up trouble.

Part of me really hates the fact that blogging sometimes seems like a popularity contest. I despise the Followers function on Blogger, for example. I love that people read my blog, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel the need to broadcast to everyone how many people read my blog. It's just not my thing. I also don't check blog stats or freak out about the amount of comments that I receive. The charming comedian is often telling me I am very laid back, and I guess I take that approach to blogging. That does not mean that I am oblivious, though. Just because I am quiet does not mean I am not paying attention! Sometimes I do get sad when my commenting is down, but not enough that I really seem to do much about it... That is just me hoping that I am not blogging for myself. That gets a bit dull!

I could go on and on. I notice a lot of changes in just the last year; let alone the last four! And, I was trying not to insult anyone. I hope I accomplished that! This is mainly just observations on things. I do know for sure that I am very grateful to everyone that reads my blog and I am happy to have met all the wonderful people I have met through book blogging. Thanks for making book blogging a mostly fantastic experience! I am going to shut up and go read now...

51 comments:

  1. Happy 4th year! I am celebrating soon my first anniversary (on book blogging been blogging a lot longer) and I see some of the same things you do although I am new. My pet peeve is the people who accept books and do not review them. I figure since I am new I do not accept many and I have only twice made contact on my own to a publisher for books. Even though I have been approached by more pubs I only accept from 2 and an average of about a book a month. I agree that is something that should be earned. I also do not like the popularity contests but do see how proper social media marketing increases views to your blogs and potential buyers of books so I do use that to my advantage.

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  2. Hugs hugs hugs Kelly :D I just absolutely loved this post. It's everything I've been wanting to say, just put perfectly. Honestly, I could care less about being popular, about review copies, about having a million followers, etc. I just want to have fun and talk with others...that's why I'm here. And this post is a great reminder of that.

    I'm with you on missing the old days, but you know what? They're still there. Things have changed, yes, but change is natural...it's going to happen. But that doesn't mean that we have to. I should totally go back to my old blogger blog with the black background :p Nah, not doing that, lol.

    I can't believe you've been blogging 4 years now!! I've actually been blogging for like, uh...8 or 9 years now, but I'm coming up on 3 years of book blogging in January!! Seems like it should be longser! Great post Kelly...Thanks :)

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  3. Well then, congratulations form a relatively new blogger (less than a year). I love your blog, and I loved this post - you've definitely given me some food for thought.

    -Aimee
    http://myflutteringheart.blogspot.com

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  4. Hey Kelly, happy soon to be 4th blogiversary!

    I do agree with you that review copies of books should be earned. I'm happy that some authors contacted me to review their books and that for sure, didn't happen overnight. I'm living outside of the US and that means less opportunity to receive this privilege, but still, I do appreciate everything that comes my way.

    As for the Follower function on blogger, I don't have any issues with it. I don't have that many followers but I do appreciate each and everyone of you who came to visit ever so regularly.

    Blogging is really fun and more fun when I get to know people like you! :D

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  5. What a brilliant post. So many things said, much better than I could put them, but that I agree with totally. I've been on Blogger for two and a half years now and just in that short time it's changed out of all recognition. The community I joined was small and intimate, now it's ginormous! And I'm not sure it hasn't lost something in the meantime. So many people come and comment for a month or two now and then they're off somewhere else. It's sad.

    Review books... I think I took two before it dawned on me that it was too much like a job. I didn't like the pressure because I felt that if you were sent a book you should review it asap. And I book blog for fun not to feel a weight of responsibility.

    Anyway, congrats on your four years. I enjoy your blog very much and your Twitter posts. :-)

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  6. Four years? Wow! Congrats on that.

    I agree with the others - you said things very well and I certainly agree with what you said.

    I don't like the pressure I sometimes feel wrapped up in the whole 'popularity' thing. It feels very high schoolish to me and I was never one of the popular kids back then. I was, and still am, strangely okay with that.

    Another thing that's been bothering me? The way people feel the need to apologize when they state an opinion. We've all done it but hey, it's our opinion and we needn't apologize for it. I felt that way when I posted my review of "Going Rogue". I almost didn't review it because I felt it might somehow damage my 'standing' in the community. Obviously, I went ahead and posted it and if someone dislikes me because I'm a Palin fan? Not my worry.

    Congrats on the anniversary! It really is cool.

    cjh

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  7. Great post Kelly! You know my feelings on a lot of these topics. There are some fabulous things about blogging now, and loads of fantastic bloggers out there, but some times it is easy to feel a bit lost in the crowd.

    I really dislike the whole follower thing, especially when you have to be a follower to enter contests and things.

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  8. Congratulations on four years! I've been reading book blogs for about as long (thought I'm new to having a blog) and it's fab that there are tons of people I still recognise. The debates bug me, I want to see the big issues talked about like what the publishing community is up to etc not is it mean for a blogger to hand out an award to some people.

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  9. It's amazing how quickly time goes by isn't it? Congratulations on your 4 yrs of blogging Kelly!

    you are spot on with all your comments on how it's all changed..it's certainly grown but I think there are smaller circles of friends who sorta hang out together too so it can be 'intimate"...

    Here's a toast for another 4 yrs as enjoyable as the last 4!

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  10. I'm so happy you're still here and blogging after four years, Kelly!!!! I can't imagine the blogging world without you to be honest. :)

    I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the "good old days" too. And you know, I hate that I think of it that way...of course, things change, it's the nature of life. But I still really miss the way it used to be.

    I loved what you said about the followers thing and all that. I've never really quite understood that...especially when people run contests that give extra entries when you sign up to be a follower. Why would you want to bribe people to read your blog? But that's just me.

    Anyway, Kelly, I'm looking forward to your next 4 years, and then many, many, more beyond that! :D

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  11. wow, four years! Congratulations, Kelly, and here's to many more. You're one of my favourite people, and I can't tell you how glad I am that I had the chance to get to know you through our blogs.

    I agree with you that things have changed, and though I haven't been around for as long I also miss the old days when everything was cosier and more intimate. But I think blogging is what we want it to be - if we focus on our love of books and on real connections, we can make a cosy little blogging world for ourselves within the wider one.

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  12. Congratulations, Kelly, on four years! That is an amazing feat! I always want to commend you on speaking out about your concerns. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the popularity contest. I detest those contests that require you to become a follower; as someone else mentioned, it is bribing people to drive up your numbers, and that, to me, flies in the face of why I blog. Like you, I do not obsess with my stats or my comments and am just happy to get them. I do not expect review copies and I still get a thrill and do a happy dance every time I receive one. I blog because it's fun and a way for me to express myself. As Nymeth said, if we focus on that, and on our individual connections with other bloggers, we can make the blogging world just as cozy as it once was. Again, congratulations!

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  13. Hi! I've only been book blogging for about a year and a half, and only a little over half a year on my own instead of with a group, so I haven't seen a lot of changes. I do remember when the followers thing came out. Originally, I liked the idea. It was a way I could publicly show which blogs I liked. But then it became about popularity, so while I keep it up, I never actually "follow" people anymore.

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  14. This is an interesting post. I have been blogging for a little over 5 years myself, and I started with (and still have) my personal blog. Only branched out into book blogging when I wanted to keep my book posts separate.

    But there are things you say here that apply to personal blogs as well. Heck, I made some great friends through blogging and even had some come to my wedding in 2005 - one was even my photographer! But there have been a lot of changes over the years. I find most of the friends I had that blogged now only update things on Facebook. So it's certainly different!

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  15. Happy early blog-versary!

    I remember you were one of if not the first blog I ever started reading regularly. I dislike that about the Blog Tours too. I'm ashamed to say that when a book has been reviewed a million times by a million blogs I tend to skim.

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  16. I've been blogging for 3½ years - and happy blogiversary to you by the way - although for all of 2007 I was only blogging in Danish. When I began blogging in 2006 there wasn't many Danish book blogs. There are some now, but it is still pretty much new territory, and many of those book blogging in Danish are libraries or commercial review sites.

    There is much much much more happening in the English speaking book blogisphere, which I enjoy. I don't care about followers and free review copies (and have never been offered any), but have sometimes felt like I betrayed the Danish book blog world...

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  17. Wahoo! Four years! I remember when I started my blog I looked to your blog as an example of a great book blog. I was a Kelly wannabe!

    Your pet peeve is my pet peeve. Sometimes I feel like Grandpa Simpson, "Review copies are *earned* not handed out willy-nilly, dangnabit!" Like I'm some book blogger old timer (almost 3 yrs). I didn't even know people would give me books just for my opinion when I started.

    It's hard to believe that we can look back only a year or two with nostalgia. That's the internet for you.

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  18. I've been blogging for roundabout the same amount of time, and the changes are astounding, aren't they?? It can be heartening, unsettling, and a little frustrating at times, but I don't think anything could drive most of us from this blogginess we love. Great post!

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  19. Happy (almost) Blogiversary, and thanks for such a thoughtful post!

    I've been doing this for almost 3 years myself, and book blogging really has changed a lot even in that time. So many more blogs - new ones every day! And so much emphasis on review books. I'd been blogging for nearly a year when I was offered my first review book - it would never have crossed my mind to ask for one, and I wouldn't have known how. I do some blog tours, but not the ones that have everyone post reviews on the same couple of days - those do get tiresome, in my opinion.

    I've always paid attention to my subscriber numbers (more so than my daily visitors), and what I like about the Follow feature is that I can see who the individual readers are - it's a relationship thing for me. But I hope they're following because they like my content, since I don't do many giveaways :-).

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  20. I'm not surprised to see so many comments on this post!! I loved all of the issues you brought up.
    1) Happy 4 years blogging
    2) I blogged 2 years about my personal life for family and scrapbooking before I decided just to focus on books which are my passion.
    3) I agree with you in regards to people going overboard on review books. I use my library for almost everything. I've cut back on the number of books I want to review from outside sources. I guess I never realized someone has started a blog just to get free books. How crazy is that!!!
    4) I feel the exact same way about the Blog Tours. I have enjoyed TLC tours but like you I get tired of being beat over the head with the same book several 100 times in one day. I usually skim the review, and move on.
    5) I like the idea of Reading Challenges and am really trying to do better on those. They make my reading a bit more fun and mixed up.
    6) When blogging seems like a chore it isn't fun anymore!! I'm still having fun but when and if the day comes that I'm not...I'll close up shop.
    7) I don't like the popularity thing but I've seen it on scrapsites so I guess anything pretty much becomes like high school. I ignore it and posts about it for the most part.

    Excellent topic and thoughts Kelly!!

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  21. Happy Blogiversary, Kelly! Wonderful for you, being here for four years. And doing so well, too- you really are a pillar of the community :-)

    I don't think I know about many of the discussions you refer to in your post above, but I agree about the popularity contest. I have the follower feature on Google turned on mostly because (I blush to admit this) I, er, kind of like to stalk who follows me. See if their blog interest me and if I can follow them back. I have gotten a lot of the blogs I follow through stalking in that manner.

    I also agree about the review copies. It could be some sort of guilt thing, but I don't think people should accept books that they have no intention of reading. But then again, I think I read a lot slower than most people, so maybe for them, getting 20 books in the mailbox one week is not terrifyingly intimidating like it would be for me!

    I don't remember the good old days as I didn't realize book blogging was a community activity until probably earlier this year. But I think there are some good things going on in blogging now- BBAW, the holiday swap, etc., that are newer. And regardless of how big the book blogging world may be, I agree with Nymeth- you've got your niche pretty well-settled :-)

    Apologies on the length of this comment.

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  22. Congratulations on reaching your four year anniversary, Kelly. That's quite an accomplishment in the lifespan of a blog.

    The book blogging community has definitely grown over the past several years. And with growth comes the good and the bad. From my perspective, it's been mostly good. I especially appreciate the friendships I have made and my interactions with other book lovers like myself.

    I hope you do something fun for yourself to celebrate. :-)

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  23. Congratulations on reaching the fourth year!

    I've to agree the bookblogging world has changed over the years... I'm glad to know more bookbloggers though I've a hard time catching up with all the blogs out there!

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  24. "..So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time" (obscure Simpson reference)

    Happy 4 years!
    I know that there are discussions around about blogging issues, but I nearly always have to hop around to see them, because they don't show up in my google reader. I think I just keep people around without drama, and are happy blogging like I do - reading books, sharing reviews, and just enjoying the process. No stress.

    I like how once you've made friends, that connection is there, and even if they dont' post much, that connection was there, a shared history as it were. It's like bumping into an old friend, you just pick up where things left off.

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  25. Four years is an amazing accomplishment! Congratulations to you :)

    Like, you I shy away from checking my stats (I rarely, if ever, do) and honestly I couldn't tell you how many subscribers I have. It's not that I don't appreciate that people are because I totally do, but ultimately it's not about how many I get but rather how many stay. That, to me, is the true reflection that what I'm doing and saying is striking a chord with people.

    Happy Bloggaversary! Here's to 4 more :)

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  26. Congratulations on 4 years!

    I don't like the follower thing either, it so in your face with popularity. I try not to obsess, but I do have fun writing certain posts to see if they get hits, or including links to see if people follow them, that sort of stat checking.

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  27. 4 years? Congratulations!

    I'm just coming up to my 2nd year of book blogging, but I have been blogging in some form or another since 2003. But this is the first time the "community" has come from the blog rather than the blog coming from the "community" if you know what I mean...

    I think that has made me care more about the blog this time around and the friends I've made from it.

    Much of what people see as important and "hot-topic" debates do however go straight over my head, and I could not care less about most of them.

    Some of this attitude comes from my time spent in the Harry Potter fandom, there is a rather crude phrase used there and in other fandoms as well that encompass' it (if you type fandomw into google it'll auto-complete it for you ;) but don't forget I told you it was crude!) but basically it is all about getting priorities wrong and then not stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. And I have no wish to be dragged in to anything similar.

    I started book blogging, because A) By old blog was dying a natural death and I wanted someway to continue and B) Because I am by nature a procrastinator and I saw it as a way to push myself to read more like I used to as a youngster.

    In that I have been successful and got to "meet" some fantastic people in the process. :o) Those reasons haven't changed in the last two years. I use things like followers and subscribers etc to assist my commitment to those aims, so I do give them some importance, but in truth I've always believed in quality rather than quantity where friends are concerned, whether that be socially, work-wise or internet.

    So, if I had to stay with what I had now, I'd be more than happy to do so

    Going to stop rambling now ;o)

    And congratulate you once again on reaching 4 years!

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  28. Happy four years Kelly! I'm glad you have staying power -- you were one of the first book blogs I started reading two years ago, well before I realized there was actually a full book blogging community as opposed to just a couple of people who blogged books. I'm so glad you're still blogging, despite the changes in the community. Thanks for your posts, you're terribly hard on my TBR list!

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  29. If you're coming up on 4 years that means I am, too! We have seen lots of changes, haven't we. In many ways I liked the smaller book blogging community of the early years. It was easier to keep up with people and to feel warmer friendships.

    One thing I do like is the disclosure feature that came out. I haven't written a review for awhile because I need to figure out how to do it legally. I know it's probably no big deal, but it was biggest enough to make me want to throw in the towel.

    One of the joys of blogging has been visiting you, Kelly. I love your blog. It always brings a smile to my face when I see that cute little fairy and read your posts. And, of course, I love getting comments from you on my blog. Here's to another 4 years!

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  30. Congrats on 4 years Kelly! Your blog (and you lol) have gotten me interested in all kinds of books and book types I wouldn't have looked at otherwise because I would have said I "didn't like that kind of book". You've really helped me open my mind and I like how, partly because of your blogging, you, me and Mel have developed a little book club of sorts. This is definitely something we could never have foreseen 10 years ago!
    You've also inspired me to start my own book blog and explore the community and I really enjoy it. Like you, I really don't care about stats. Heck, if one new person commented on my blog I would probably be excited! I just do it because I just love blogging, reading other people's opinions and sharing my own. I have a larger than life TBR pile now which is huge for a girl who, about 2 years ago, never had a clue what to read if there were no new books out about bands she liked.
    Congrats again! :)

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  31. Great post, and fascinating comments, too! I think it is good to pause and think about what we are doing and why we are doing this - and I think it changes along the way for lots of people. I never really imagined that anyone would care about my ramblings about books and reading and libraries - nor that I'd make so many friends who love books as I do! That's great that you've been blogging this long and are still going strong. Here's to many more years! :)

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  32. Happy Blogaversary!!

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  33. Happy 4th!! I'm at about 31/2 and still consider you one of my best early finds when I entered the blogging realm. You've been an inspiration to me all along and continue to be a role model. I'm with you on missing the old days. Love this post!

    I rarely seek out review copies and don't have nearly the subscriber numbers that lots of other folks have, but I don't care. I've met many great folks over the years and for me the fun is posting about the books I read and talking about books with other booklovers. That that group has grown over the years has both positive and negative implications. I just try to focus on the positive ones and stay away from the drama. My motto is 'don't give me drama, give me book recommendations' ;-)

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  34. I'm a much different blogger than I was three years ago. I used to be obsessed with blog stats - now I hardly ever check them. I also remember the first time I received review copies - I was so excited. I am now much more picky as to which books I agree to accept, as there is no way I could possibly read all the books that are offered!

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  35. Congrats on 4 years. wow, I hope I last that long. These are some very keen observations...thanks for sharing them.

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  36. What a great post Kelly!! You know you are my reason for blogging!! Which reminds me, my 3 year anniversary is coming up...quick!!

    I wanted to commment on this yesterday, but have been fighting migraines all week. Today was the first day I actually felt good, though I still have a small lingering headache.

    I love the challenges. The amount has grown SO much, but it gives me a chance to step outside of my little world and read books I would otherwise never have touched. I rarely finish challenges...but I do like to join!!

    Followers?? I'm with you there. And I really hate bloggers that have giveaways and contests...but you have to be a follower to join. That kind of burns me. But I really don't care much about followers. Not that I don't love people reading my blog. I just don't stress too much over the stats. At one point I did, but I realized it made blogging less fun. And that's really why I started it in the first place.

    Congrats on 4 years. You have been a great friend through the years!! Luv you!

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  37. Wonderful post - and congrats on the bloggiversary!

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  38. Happy blogiversary! I'm coming up on 3 years, and I agree with everything you've said about changes! Especially about popularity. I do enjoy all the new challenges out there, but I'm weird like that. hehe And while I miss when everything was smaller and more 'friendly,' I also think of all the new blogging friends I have that weren't around back in 2007, and I can't imagine the blogosphere without them! So I try to keep that in mind and keep my own little circle. :) I *loathe* blog tours (except the Classic Circuit of course!)...I wrote a whole post about them but then was too wimpy to publish it. lol I want to stay away from the blogging debate silliness and just read books! :D And I find the popularity of review books a bit tiresome...I feel sad to see a few books getting a ton of attention. But many of my favourite bloggers don't accept review copies, so I just stick with that. :) I love what raidergirl3 said: my Google Reader is just like hers. I try to keep the positive, book-focused energy around me!

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  39. Congratulations on making 4 years! This is the first time I've seen your blog, but I love your post and I agree with just about everything you say.

    I think we all just need to keep blogging in a way that makes us happy, follow people with similar interests and leave everyone else to get on with their own thing. Keep up the great work!

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  40. Happy anniversary! Four years is a long time! I missed the old blogging atmosphere also. It was more friendly, more laid back. Blogging has almost become a business.Blogging is much more serious. I'm still enjoying it though. I accept ARCs every now and then but not often.

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  41. Just wanted to add my "me too" to your post and all your comments. Yours was one of the first blogs I discovered when I started almost three years ago now. And all the changes you mention have been pretty interesting. Anyway, I hope you don't get tired of it... and keep on bloggin! :)

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  42. Happy anniversary and as for your post - AMEN. I couldn't agree more.

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  43. Congrats on four years! That's quite an accomplishment.

    I've been book blogging for two years next month, and I noticed several of the things you mentioned. And I'll admit I also got caught up in the race to be the "best" blogger. I just had to get that review up because other people managed to post reviews every single day. It got so bad that I stopped really enjoying books and eventually had to take a four-month break from blogging.

    Now that I've come back, though, I decided to start a new blog, a new slate so to say. I think it has worked out really well for me so far, especially the no ARC rules. Less pressure, more enjoyment.

    Anyways, I didn't mean to make this all about me. Just wanted to say I agree and that you put these observations into words so beautifully.

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  44. Excellent post! I couldn't have said it better and I agree with all your thoughts. Congrats on your blogiversary. I guess I'm coming up on my 4th, too.

    Thanks for keeping it real.

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  45. I came over here and read this from Cathy's weekly round-up, and was interested to get your perspective. I didn't feel like I had anything in particular to add until now, when I've come back to say, wow, I've just started lurking on your blog and then today discovered that you're my Secret Santa! Thank you so much! You sent me a beautifully wrapped book I didn't even know I wanted yet. There will be more about this at my blog, of course. But I felt inspired to come back here and say, well, wow!

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  46. Congratulations for the milestone! I've been blogging for years too, but I lose count of how many years because I have moved blogs a few times. But for my current blog it's a bit more than 2 years (I just checked! :) I just don't know when to celebrate my blogiversary since the transition between my blogs weren't quite so clear. Sorry to ramble. I can understand what you're saying in the post. It's like it was a much easier day a couple of years ago, and things are a bit more hectic and complicated now :)

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  47. Happy Blogoversary! We've been blogging about the same amount of time - 2010 will mark my fifth year of blogging (wow, I didn't realize that until I typed it).

    And hear! hear! (or is it here! here!) on everything else you said in your thoughtful post. I couldn't agree more.

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  48. Thanks for this post, I've only been here almost 2 years, so it is interesting to see how things changed before I was on the scene too. I think it was pretty shortly after I started blogging that the ARCs started flowing in to everyone. I remember being told when I started my blog that occasionally publishers sent ARCs if you were really well established, etc. The first ARC I reviewed (other than the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program) was a win from a blog contest, then suddenly they were everywhere.

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  49. Hi there,

    Wow, 4 years? Awesome!!! Congratulations and keep up with the book blogging!

    Did you know, your blog was among the first ones that I visited and kept visiting since I began my blogs around 2 years ago? Yup. I liked looking at your old blog header (some fantasy characters) with the blue layout and the numerous lists of books! You still have them now! Heheh..

    I appreciate what you wrote in your post. It's nice to see another perspective towards book blogging!

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  50. Congrats on 4 years!

    I admit I go back and forth on the followers thing. I love the function because I love to see who my audience is (and I visit each and every one...at least once), but I agree that it feels very much like a popularity contest (one that you are bound to lose). While I do sometimes offer an extra entry to my contests for following, I never make it a requirement and it bugs me when people do.

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Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

I am so sorry, but I turned anonymous commenting off. I have had it from the very beginning, but that is how the spam is getting by my spam filter at the moment. If it is a big deal I will turn it back on and moderate all comments. I also changed moderation from older than 14 days to older than 7.