2011 at 5am Posted by Rebecca Joines Schinsky
I don’t usually publish new posts on Fridays in the summer because, well, nobody is on the internet on Fridays in the summer, but I’m making an exception today to respond here, in my own sandbox (as Raych would say), to mistakes that were made elsewhere, on a site I won’t link to because it doesn’t deserve any more traffic (and because I, unlike the writer, trust that you are intelligent enough to find it on your own should you want to), by a writer who denigrated Book Expo, publishers, the state of literature, and book bloggers in an impressive feat of unfounded ridiculousness. When my comment finally appeared on the offending post some 24 hours after I left it, they’d excluded all of the formatting. So here it is as I intended it.
[To the writer],
The truly disappointing thing is not the turn BEA has taken but the fact that you managed to attend and, instead of focusing on the myriad interesting and exciting developments, air what appear to be your personal grievances about the changes the industry is experiencing and the fact that your status as a writer no longer automatically entitles you to more cultural authority than anyone else.
I’ll allow the publishers and Book Expo organizers to respond to your problems with them, as I know they are more than capable of doing so. Because I am a critic (one accepted by the National Book Critics Circle, at that), I’ll opt for a close reading and critique of the points you attempt to make about my community: book bloggers.
First, you state that the attendees of Book Blogger Con were “mostly women between 20 and 50 years old, often known as “mommy bloggers” because they are housewives who blog about romance novels, horror/vampire stories and paranormal novels.” As my colleague Ron Hogan has pointed out, mommy bloggers blog about motherhood. Are some book bloggers mothers? Yes. Are some of them even stay-at-home mothers? Yes. (By the way, the 1950s are calling and they want the term “housewives” back.) But most book bloggers work full-time jobs outside of their homes and maintain their blogs in addition to developing their careers and nurturing their personal and family relationships. And many of them are damn good at it.
You also state that many bloggers have hundreds of followers on Twitter (I invite you to investigate this number, as many us actually have thousands. Imagine that. People talk about books on the internet and THOUSANDS of people listen!) and that because we have these followings we also “have the power to establish new trends…the publishing industry has started to take [us] seriously.” Yep, we do have that power. Why? Because people are reading our blogs and buying the books we discuss, and publishers are wise to pay attention and devote resources to putting books into the hands of people who sell them.
Now can we talk for a moment about how condescending the language you’ve chosen is? As a 28-year-old woman (childless, I work from home doing jobs I was offered because, wait for it, I am good at the internet), I find it ridiculous and disrespectful that you reduce the entire community of book bloggers to a bunch of “twenty-year-old girls.” As if being young, female, or both is inherently problematic. These are the kinds of things people write when they do not have concrete criticism to offer, just in case you’re wondering.
As for the statement that book blogging “is even more limited in its interests than the mainstream media,” I can only say that you must not be paying much attention to mainstream media. It’s been a good long while since the mainstream media made any sort of concerted effort to promote literacy and literary culture. Book bloggers do it daily, and there are as many kinds of book blogs as there are books.
And bloggers as “children of pop culture and the mass media?” Riiight. You can hide behind that because you’re totally not using the internet to build a platform for your opinions (wrongheaded though they may be).
If book bloggers’ “chatter” (again with the condescending language) eventually exceeds traditional forms of book reviewing in popularity, it will be because PEOPLE ACTUALLY READ BOOK BLOGS. No one is tying people to their desk chairs and forcing them to choose between old-school reviews and blogs. People are doing that for themselves (if they are, indeed, making that choice).
The next time you don’t understand a cultural phenomenon, might I suggest that you skip the “get off my grass” rant and the sweeping generalizations and actually invest some time in doing, oh, I don’t know, research?
BTW (that’s internet speak for “by the way”) “I don’t tweet” is not the charming modern-day equivalent of “Oh, I don’t watch TV,” and it’s not an excuse for cultural illiteracy.
And here’s a special ending I’ve saved just for you, dear readers: