Friday, April 8, 2011

Do Bloggers Sell Books?

I’m a bit late to the party here, but lately there has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere as to whether or not bloggers sell books. It seems to me that many publishers believe the impact bloggers have on book sales is pretty minimal, particularly when I look at this conversation which Kristi of The Story Siren had with an anonymous author. While bloggers may not be responsible for selling every individual copy of a book, I think this author underestimates us.

First of all, I want to make one thing amply clear: I did not start this blog because I want to sell books. In fact, I don’t think that’s why any of us who blog for fun post day after day. If I wanted to sell books, I would open up a bookstore. Yet I think that when a blogger is passionate about a title and is able to convey his or her feelings through a clear voice, a few book sales are the end result.

If I read a book that I fall head over heels in love with, I want to show the rest of the world just how awesome it is. One example of this is Anna and the French Kiss. I did my best to write a strong review (I realize I mainly just gushed), had a giveaway for it, have given it twice as a gift, and continue to recommend it to anyone who I think might be interested. That’s right, I actively use my blog to give people free books that they can read, and review on their own blog or Goodreads. And I’m not the only book pusher out there. When I mentioned the other day on Twitter that I still haven’t read Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, I got about five Tweets from other bloggers saying things like, “WHAT!” and “GO READ IT NOW!!!” Situations like this lead to people in IMM videos saying, “After reading all of the rave reviews I finally bought a copy of this,” or a comment from a reader on my blog saying, “I just went out and got this book because you said it was great and I loved it!”

Clearly, bloggers love to “sell” books to each other. We may trust a fellow reviewer so much that we will at least consider buying any book that he or she reviews positively. However, if you think that bloggers and the impact that they have extends no further than your glossy computer screen, you are oh so wrong.

Bloggers love bookish places. We all have favorite libraries and bookstores that we frequent, and I know lots of people, myself included, who will jump at the chance to go to author signings. Part of what I love about signings is the buzz of excitement as writing wisdom is shared, jokes are made and pictures are taken. I’ll end up chatting with other people I meet at a signing not only about the authors and books there but about other titles that I love. Recommendations are shared and books are passed into eagerly waiting hands.

Yet for some bloggers, showing up for a signing just isn’t enough, and we wind up working more closely with our local indies. I am the YA blogger for indie bookstore Monkey See Monkey Read, and am also starting a new feature on this blog where I spotlight some of my favorite bookstores. Pam of Bookalicious is another great example of a blogger who is constantly involved with her local indie.

We also spend time at libraries, and in some cases, talk to librarians and patrons. If I see someone pick up a book I love, I might casually say, “Oh, that one is really good.” I’ve also been someone who loves talking to librarians, telling them about my favorite books and getting recommendations. It’s also worth noting that I know lots of bloggers and non-bloggers who attend book clubs. What better way to build hype than to sit around with your friends and discuss the books you love?

Not all bloggers are this involved in the YA community. Some only pick out a few of these activities. I do believe, however, that there are few bloggers who only blog--I think most are also on Twitter or involved in on-site events. As individuals, maybe we each only sell about five books a year, as the author in Kristi's post guessed. But take a look around. Look at all of the blogs out there. Check out all of the blogs in the YA Book Blog Directory, or all 965 people who are participating in The Story Siren’s 2011 Debut Author Challenge, where she has a link that will send readers to booksellers. If all of these bloggers sell about five books a year, if not more, I’d consider that an impact on sales.

Now try telling me that bloggers don’t sell books.

5 comments:

  1. I think I sell way more than five (and thanks for linking to me that was a nice surprise :D) but I still don't sell enough to be considered a huge seller, publishers and rightly so only think in numbers we can never achieve. However if they stopped looking at numbers and took a look at community and word of mouth and the excitement we can bring to a title then I think they would be pleasantly impressed

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  2. Lately, especially, I've just been buying books that bloggers recommend or who write rave reviews for. Usually these books have even out for awhile and aren't getting buzz any longer and may not have gotten buzz at the time of the release. Just today I saw a couple of bloggers tweeting about a book I was already thinking about buying, but I saw them talking about it AGAIN so I ended up purchasing it. I do know that when I walk into a bookstore(not to often anymore) I usually know what books I'm looking for before I even walk in the door because of other reviews I've seen.

    I do understand that on a national scale us bloggers probably don't do too much...I'm guessing. I think for books that don't get national press and aren't in every Walmart, blogs are a great thing.

    I visit my local library at least once a week, usually more. On occasion I have them order books I think are great and others would like as well. I follow my library on twitter and they follow me back and we chat about books and such on occasion.

    Love the last paragraph!

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  3. This is a great timing for this post, actually. I have to agree with everything you just said.

    I am brand new to the book blogging realm, so I've not sold any books, I'm sure. But, in the past few weeks, I've added so many books to my Goodreads wishlist based on the thoughts and reviews of fellow bloggers.

    Not only that, but, I'm making a purchase of 5-10 books tonight from Amazon, most of which are ones I have seen reviews on recently. One of which is Anna and the French Kiss, though that is because of another review I read.

    You guys absolutely DO sell books!

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  4. I know that bloggers sell books to me. If I keep seeing a book over and over again that is consistently loved, it makes me wonder if I would like it too. I would like to think that I sell books, though I'm not sure if it's the case.

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  5. Excellent post. I agree with Jessi E. Bloggers certainly sell books to me...and don't I qualify as a consumer?

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