Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Evolution Of A Romance Reader

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.


Holly said...

Hmm. Well, I don't really consider you "old guard" since I know you from this blog and not from TRR, but I'm not trying to take away from the original romance communities. I definitely think they have their place, it's just not one I'm very interested in. ;)

But, I've read your reviews and I've read books you recommended and I really enjoyed both.

Rosie said...

I think that most of us gravitate to the places that speak to our reading sensibilities. I read the Book Binge post and commented that I too heavily rely on other reader sites, but I look at bigger established industry sites too. Like you mentioned it's so easy to do from home and when you want and on your own time.

I think it's good for the genre (any really) and look forward to new sites, opinions and changes. You never know what's 'round the bend.

Kristie (J) said...

I thought it was an interesting post too. I've seen a lot of changes in the past few years. What I find very encouraging, strange, nifty, odd and all those other things is that many of the reader blogs are done by readers so much younger than me. I feel like an old lady at times *g*. but it thrills me beyond belief when I see them reading some of my old favourites and really liking them.
Another thing I enjoy so much about blogging is the intimacy of them. I think I've gotten to 'know' bloggers so much better than other posters on message boards. It seems like other bloggers are much more friends while other posters on message boards are more like aquaintances. And I do so love making friends *g*