There's an interesting post up at Book Binge today about the evolution of the online romance community. This is something I've been mulling over for the past few months, because I do see an evolution taking place.
When I started blogging (what seems like ages ago, but really it was only 2003) the only reader-oriented blog that had any teeth was Rosario's. LLB was around as well, but being an off-shoot of AAR, I tend to lump her under the "industry" umbrella. It was a lonely existence. Blogger was in it's infancy and didn't have a commenting feature to speak of (Rosario still uses HaloScan!) and lord knows my idea of keeping statistics was to not bother with them at all. In fact I'm pretty sure the only people reading my blog were family members - bless their hearts.
I started this blog for no other reason than I like to hear myself talk. And frankly I think over the years my blog has gotten loads more interesting (although whether or not I'm "interesting" now is open to serious debate). What made my blog better was the emergence of other reader blogs. Once they joined the scene it got a lot more lively.
I think most readers get into blogging for a handful of reasons. 1) They're like me and like to hear themselves talk and 2) They want to hook up with readers "like them." Being a romance reader can be an isolating experience even though the genre sells a crap-load of books. Why? Because a lot of people 1) won't admit they read the genre 2) don't think they read the genre even though they have a Nora Roberts book stuffed in their purse and 3) just don't talk about the genre for fear of being treated like a simple-minded, pathetic loser who can't get a date on Friday night so has to live vicariously though that novel with a greased-up Fabio-wannabe on the cover.
There, I feel better already.
And that's what makes the Internet so welcoming to romance readers. It's anonymous. You can go by a pseudonym, or just your first name, spout off about books you loved (or hated) and the chances for ridicule are slim (except for the occasional pesky flame war).
But what does the emergence of reader-blogs mean to the old guard? Still vital? In need of new blood? I ask because being a TRR reviewer, I'm member of the old guard. And to be honest, at this point, I'm tired. The only things keeping me from chucking reviewing for them entirely is 1) my sense of loyalty and 2) the fact that reviewing for them has allowed me to discover many fabulous authors/books. Without reviewing, that wouldn't have happened - and I'm not sure I should give that up.
But then I think, I have my blog. I have this platform. How many platforms does my voice really need? TRR, RtB, this blog? Do I have that much to say? A question I tend to have a different answer to depending on the day of the week.
One thing for certain, the online romance community is evolving. Where we'll end up, bloggers and the old guard, is anybody's guess.