Note: Even though I only write posts in spanish, I decided to make an exception to discuss and share my experiences with fellow BBC2012 participants.
To have a little context, something about me and the blog:
My name is Dayana, I´m 32, single and no kids. I live in Cordoba, a province located in the heart of Argentina, and, no false modesty there, I can assure you it´s one of the most beautiful places of the country.
My blog was born in 2008 as a personal space where I started to compile information about my province from an infinity of subjects (from entertainment to official procedures) with the goal of making everybody easier the task of accessing to the information.
In four years it has gotten almost 7 million visitors and in the Book Blogging category I had 7 thousand visitors on June, and growing.
As a Book Blogger I started “officially” last October for a convergence of reasons:
- My province´s authors always say no media reviews and talks about their work.
- I had six official government recommended book lists posted since 2009. Among those lists there were near 2000 books for kids ages 3 to 15 and I thought it would be a good idea to review them.
- I love reading and sporadically reviewed some of the books I bought.
To better define this new part of the blog I named it: 400 books in 2012 in which I´m trying to read 400 books from November 2011 to November 2012.
To this date I have reviewed 200 books classified by age lists: 3 to 4 years old, 5 to 6, 6 to 8, 9 to 11, 12 or older and 15 or older, books for adults, books about Cordoba and from Cordobian authors, books in english and the recommended books by America Reads Spanish campaign that I learned about at BEA 2012.
Along with Guillermo, my boyfriend who writes about TV and entertainment books, we traveled to New York to attend BBC, BEA and Blog World Expo; and then a week of tourism visits in San Francisco for coverage on our blogs.
After all that ado, let´s talk about what I want to discuss with you, BBC attendees.
When reading the comments about BBC that most blogs wrote I found many complaints about the scheduling, the contents, the over selfpromotion by authors and the big space given to the industry over the discussion about blogging in itself.
When reading all those, I sincerely couldn´t quite understand what were the bloggers´ expectations and what would you have wanted to talk about specifically.
I think this paragraph sums it up quite well.
We attend because we want to meet other bloggers, because we want to listen and participate in a dialogue between bloggers and the industry, because we want to learn from other bloggers their tips and tricks of the trade, best practices, and how to become better at what we do best: write reviews and spread the word about books, both good and bad, and on our own terms.
–The Book Smugglers
I´ve been blogging for four years now, and truth be told, I think any of those things can be accomplished by learning online, by asking virtually (e-mail, chat, Facebook, Skype) to a more experienced blogger. That if I´m talking about blogging in general.
If I talk about book blogs in particular, I think that reading other blogs and paying a little bit of attention to what they are doing you can quite grasp what´s everything about, (i.e. I learned about Review policies by reading book blogs and took notes to write my own according to my reality and context).
That´s why I don´t completely understand what you gals want, and why you complain so much about the industry that provides the raw material of what we do (and I´m not talking about review copies. I´m talking the whole book making). It´s as if those who blog about cars or cellphones rejected any nexus with brands of those categories just to be talking about blogging on cars or cellphones.
By the way, I think that your focus only sees the half empty glass and you are missing out on the half full part. If the industry chooses to speak with bloggers particularily, it´s because it recognizes value in that collective, an opportunity, and openness to dialog. Perhaps since it´s natural for you, you don´t see it. But know this… in Argentina it does not happen the same way.
Here, it´s not easy to find someone to talk to in the corporate world that truly understands what we are talking when talking about blogs. Much less know how to deal with bloggers or what we can find interesting and productive, something that was opposite both in BBC and BEA where everyone in the industry showed respect, interest and responsiveness when we told them we were bloggers (even with me that I blog in Spanish).
So I think the question is not to bitterly complain about an industry that had over a million books above our heads at Javits Center 1st floor, but to dialog in the utmost professional of ways between one segment -bloggers- and another – publishers – to help the relationship grow, flourish and enrichen.
And about this topic I want to calrify something else: to professional events, one attends with the “suit” on. Who wants to socialize has way better options and venues to do so, relax and chit chat. I, even in my craziest, would not have spend the 5,000 dollars it took me to come just to talk with other blogger. I cared about the industry and the business networking and opportunities that may arise and whatnot. If I could make friends in the process, much better, but truth be told, we had far more talks, meetings and empathy with publishers rather than bloggers.
About this, something that caught our radar: here in Argentina, when someone comes from afar, generally receives a warm welcome and attention so he/she can feel comfortable and appreciated. It doesn´t even need to be a different country, it can be a different state or even city. We make a special effort so that person does not feel isolated.
And, honestly, while you are all talking about the so very little networking time among bloggers available, I could only think that none of our fellow bloggers paid any attention to us. Not in the BBC, nor in the BlogWorld Expo. It´s not a complain or a demand or anything like that; it´s just befuddled us because if any of you were to come to Argentina you would see how everyone would go out of their way to include you, ask you stuff and make you feel welcome. (Not just because it would be someone from US coming; it´s just in our culture to try to make foreigners feel welcome. Empathy to travelers sort of speak).
However, there are three views of BBC I highlight:
- #BookBlogHelp: Tips for New Bloggers Attending Publishing Industry Conferences. The well-read wife.
- Book blogger recap. Confessions of a IT girl.
- All my Notes from BlogWorld Expo #bweny #BEA #beabloggercon. David Lee King
Finally, I would like to close this post with some questions that remained unanswered and I´d love for you to answer from your standpoints:
- In Argentina there´s a lot of people saying “Blogs are dead / dying”. In neither event at Javits Center was such phrase said, which is why I´d like your thought on that line.
- Another common phrase in Argentina is “People is reading less and less” (even though I think that people is reading at least the same if not more, albeit in different formats and genres) Do you think people is reading less in your country?
- In Argentinian subconscious there´s a impendant need to discriminate artistic literature from commercial literature. Do you feel as if there´s an ideological difference between a book blogger who reads “cultural books” with another one who reads best sellers and upcoming promoted titles?
- In Argentina many authors tend to avoid all proactive actions to promote their books because of the idea that every Marketing tool is to convert a bad book into a product for everyone to buy. Seeing how en BBC and the US in general, the vision towards marketing and promotion is much more favorable when about cultural products (books, authors and such) What would be a healthy equilibrium between self promotion and working with Book Bloggers?
- What´s the reality of the different genres? I saw tons of dystopian and Young Adult novels but I don´t recall any about short stories. What´s happening with kids books, non fiction, poetry, theatre, etcetera?
- In book blogs there´s a lot of new books being reviewed, ARCs, new titles and such. What is happening with the classics? Are they being read? Discussed? Reviewed?
- In Argentina, authors (let´s better call them artists) always complain and b**** about lack of diffusion of their work. How do book bloggers manage space for new authors? Do you do something special with newcomers? with successfull published authors? Everything gets in the mix and the marketing vortex from publishers?
- Is there any interest in promoting regional literature o state specific themed books?
- What do you think about e-readers and e-books? Here in Argentina e-readers are really expensive, but in New York I didn’t see that many people with one of them (i.e. on the subway if I counted 10 people reading, 8 were paper books and two were tablets (and I couldn’t know what they were reading, obviously). Why is people still choosing paper?
- What concrete subjects would you like to see covered in the next BBC?
I truly hope this post kickstarts some debate, and generates the networking we could not have during the event.Dayana Barrionuevo