I recently came across an article by Daniela Hurezanu criticizing the changes at BookExpo America. I saw it paraphrased on another blog. My initial thought was she was taken out of context. But after reading her entire article, I was wrong. Here is a little snippet:
"This year’s BEA confirmed what most writers and book reviewers already knew: that the publication of serious literature, and particularly of literary fiction, has been abandoned by the big publishers to the small or medium-size independent presses. The few presses on whose tables one could see books with literary appeal were New Directions, NYRB Books, Overlook Press, Other Press, Europa Editions—all in all, about 10 out of hundreds of publishers."
Ok. Nothing inflammatory there. She has a point. This year was my second attending BEA. For the most part there was a shift towards children and Young Adult books. It was very easy to find those books because of the huge displays. There was also a shift towards digital products.
The latter part of Ms. Hurezanu's article just pissed me off. Here it is:
"BEA is a major event for the publishing industry also because there are many other concurrent events that are organized around it. Such an event was the Book Blogger Convention, which took place the day after BEA ended. Book blogging has become a subculture whose members are 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. Many of them have hundreds of followers on Twitter, and the result is that they have the power to establish new trends. And the publishing industry has started to take them seriously. They receive review copies from publicists, and the authors court them assiduously. At the Book Bloggers reception I met many girls in their early twenties who already have hundreds of followers on Twitter. As far as I could tell, I was the only person at the convention who doesn’t tweet. All these 20-year-old bloggers form a community that is replacing the traditional book reviewers; they know each other, read each other’s blogs and blog about the same books. So, in a paradoxical way, this subculture is even more limited in its interests than the mainstream media."
After reading that my first thoughts were, "Oh no she didn't!! Those are fighting words!!" When I read that I wanted to go home immediately and fire off any angry post. Instead, I decided against that. It's better to gather my thoughts. No need to use certain four- and five-letter words to describe a woman who is probably a nice person. I know there is a lot there in that passage, so lets break it down.
Yes most book bloggers are women, but there are a lot of great male book bloggers out there. She just needs to do a little research before making a generalization like that. According to her most us are between the ages of 20-50. Again not true. There are middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, and college kids out there with book blogs. Some that come to mind are Melina from Reading Vacation and Alex from Electrifying Reviews. Do some research lady!!!
Next, not all female book bloggers are "mommy bloggers" who read paranormal romances. And if they were, SO WHAT!!! A lot of book bloggers are accomplished people with jobs and families. I graduated from college with a degree in English and a minor in journalism. I actually work in my field and blogging has become a hobby for me. She seems to be insinuating that if you are a "mommy blogger" you're not very intelligent. B.S.!! Ok, maybe I'm a little angry!
What else does this "writer" have to say. Most of us have Twitter accounts, and can make a big impact with social media. Because of our social media presence we are getting review copies. Publicists are pitching to bloggers and not the journalist at a newspaper with a roomful of books that will never get read. Ms. Hurezanu doesn't have a Twitter account. All I can say to that, is get with it lady. Soon you won't be able to get a job anywhere without knowing how to navigate through social media. Most companies and most newspapers have Facebook and Twitters accounts. Why? Because the market has changed. More people are getting their information through some form of social media. The traditional markets are disappearing.
Ms. Hurezanu attended the Book Blogger Convention reception. There she met a bunch of 20-somethings who knew each other and read each other's blogs. She felt out of place and I can understand that. But to imply that our reading choices are limited because of our ages is just wrong. I read just about everything (except science fiction, I just can't stand it!).
I can only guess she wrote this article because she can see the writing on the wall. The traditional book reviewers are a dying breed. Most of the time I buy a book because I heard about it from another blog or a friend or family member. I rarely buy a book because I read a great review in a newspaper or magazine. I usually need to keep a dictionary handy to understand the reviews Michiko Kakutani writes for The New York Times. With the exception of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, I've never read a positive review from Kakutani. Newspapers receive hundreds of books a year, but only a select ever get any kind of attention. So of course a publisher would rather deal with a passionate blogger who loves reading. You're scared of us Ms. Hurezanu, GOOD!!!