Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reviewing The Golden Oldies

I'm going to be a terrible member of the romance blogging community (but you all already suspected as much, right?) and do up an entire blog post on a subject instead of leaving another comment on someones blog.  I know, I know - but I have a lot to say!  Plus, there shall be linkage!

As many of you know - Jessica does these great round up posts every Monday over at her blog, Read React Review.  This Monday featured none other than a shout-out to the Soggy Bra Epidemic, but also a mention of a post Mrs. Giggles did last week about genre and promo fatigue.  One thing that several commenters brought up was their desire to see more reviews of "older" titles.

I've always said bloggers should just do whatever the heck they want on their own blogs, and comments like the ones I mentioned above are why.  You're damned if you do and damned if you don't - so just do whatever the heck makes you, as the blogger, happy.  You're less likely to suffer from blogging burn-out that way.  For every reader who wants reviews of "older" titles?  Yeah, there's another reader who gets pissed off at you for reviewing an out-of-print book because now they want to read it and they can't readily get their hands on a copy.

Certainly mileage varies on this.  Hard-to-find means different things to different people.  For one thing, distribution issues can make one book plentiful in used bookstores in the Midwest, but next to impossible to find down South.  Buying a copy online is sometimes the answer, unless people know the book is hard to find in other areas of the country, and prices start skyrocketing (I've seen it happen).  Plus what's readily available here in the States?  Well that reader in Switzerland, Germany or Australia is probably going to have a tougher time.

It's also worth repeating that even if the title is available in digital format?  Not everybody has the desire or means to read an ebook.  Trust me on this.  I know of what I speak  Going to the library and asking about ILL is an option, but again, not necessarily an option open to everybody.

Now I can't speak for all the "bigger" blogs out there - but my experience with TRR and now TGTBTU has given me some insight into this issue.  The reason a lot of "older" titles don't get reviewed on the large sites?  A simple matter of a crap-load of new stuff coming in.  In most cases, unless you start cloning reviewers, you can't even get to all the new stuff - let alone the "old" stuff.  Seriously, you should see the amount of newer Harlequins I have loaded on my Sony Reader at the moment.  Yikes.

But that doesn't mean reviews for "older" titles aren't out there.  They are.  You just have to go looking for them.  Two bloggers who I think do a wonderful job with this are Rosario (who was blogging before blogging was "cool") and Aneca.  One thing I like about both of these bloggers is that they pretty much exclusively do book reviews.  Rosario does review current stuff (for example, she was another one who loved The Iron Duke), but you'll also see reviews for books that came out last year or a historical romance that's been languishing in her TBR since 2007.  So it's not all shiny, pretty new stuff.

Aneca pretty much never seems to review the latest, hottest, newest titles.  All the reviews on her site seem to be for books that have been around the block a time or two.  And if you're a traditional Regency lover?  Oh man, stop reading this post, drop everything and bookmark her site now.  She reviews quite a number of the old trad titles. 

It's probably not a coincidence that both of these fine ladies live outside the US, and they're two of the bloggers who I think do a lovely job.  Right down to including indexes for their reviews.  Seriously, I'm the librarian and I so suck at that.  I still haven't gone back to tag all my archives.  Sigh.

In other news, and keeping with the theme of reviews for older titles, some of you might recall that I featured an older Jo Goodman book for Random Romance Sunday recently.  Well, Novelnelle disclosed that she had the book (complete with over-the-top purple and yellow cover art) languishing in her TBR.  My post nudged her to un-bury and read it, and she's now reviewed it over at her blog, The Lonely Bookworm.  What did she think?  Did all that purple and yellow cause her eyes to burn?  Does 1980s Jo Goodman stand toe-to-toe with 21st century Jo Goodman?  Hop on over and find out

Oh, and reviews for older titles you say?  Well how about the 2011 TBR Challenge?  Even if you don't want to participate, be sure to check out the information page for links to those who are.  You want reviews for older titles?  Well on the third Wednesday of every month you'll be guaranteed to get at least a few.


Lori said...

I've always said bloggers should just do whatever the heck they want on their own blogs, and comments like the ones I mentioned above are why. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't - so just do whatever the heck makes you, as the blogger, happy. You're less likely to suffer from blogging burn-out that way.

This. It's why I like being a "small" blogger. I can review whatever the heck I feel like, however often I feel like it. Or not.

KB/KT Grant said...

Word. That's why I've been posting LOL Christmsa videos this week.

Long live the soggy bra post!

AnimeJune said...

Exactly! I came into romance "late" and while I now have a lot of newer titles on my tbr (thanks, RWA 2010!) I have a lot of older titles because I started by rooting around at library booksales and used bookstores.

I'm also a book reviewer - as in, I review. That's it. I've done maybe two interviews and I don't have a million contests or "Hot Guy Wearing a Banana Hammock of the Week" post. Sometimes I just want to read reviews.

Rosario said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Wendy! Couldn't agree more that your blog should be what you want it to be, otherwise it'll just end up feeling like a chore. I review what I read, and I have a massive TBR and access to a very good library system, so I read plenty of older books mixed up with the new ones. I also read quite a few non-romance titles. I figure that if someone wants to read only reviews of new books or of romance titles, I always make the copyright and genre very clear at the top of the post. If they're not interested in one particular review they can always skip it and go read another of the 1 million romance blogs available!

novelnelle said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog Wendy!

I'm probably not a very considerate blogger since I only review books what I read and I don't even think about year published etc. etc. If it's in my TBR pile and I feel like reading it and after I've read it I feel like reviewing it - it ends up on my blog. If I felt like I had to do something it would end up being a chore and then I'd disappear from my blog for years instead of months :)

Marie-Thérèse said...

Thanks so much for posting that link to Aneca's blog. As a lover of trad Regencies, I'm always looking for sites that review them and hers is new to me. Looks like I have a lot of great review reading ahead of me!

Ana T. said...

Oh Wendy, thanks for mentioning me!! I always feel so unworthy next to some of the blogs out there who always seem to be on top of things. But I just love those older books and I don't think I could keep up with all the new stuff coming out every month. I just pick the ones that came recommended from bloggers that I trust like you or Ro! ;-)

Hilcia said...

I'm with Lori. I review what I read -- new releases and backlist titles both. And I love that I have the freedom to do so. :)

FiaQ said...

Fantastic post.

For those who want reviews of older works, try 'Get Yer Bodices Ripped Here: Dedicated to those maligned romances of the 70s and 80s that are now decomposing in your mom's garage'.

Karenmc said...

Merry, Merry, Wendy! Thanks for all the great posts throughout the year. And yes, blog about whatever the heck you want (I'm partial to the conversations with Lemon Drop).

Your take on so many new books coming out mirrors my growing TBR situation. Older books pile up as I read newer releases. Once in a while I just open the TBR cupboard, close my eyes and grab a book, because there's no more room to add a book until a book leaves.

As for reviews of older books, I've had no trouble coming across them, and there's always the handy listings at AAR or the Google.

Sunita said...

I swear I commented at Jessica's blog before I read this post! But you said it better.

I love when single-author blogs, like you, Rosario, Tumperkin and others review OOP and older books. I've gotten some great recs that way. But I do think it works best there because you expect the blogs to reflect the unique voice and interests of the blogger.

But apparently you get flack too. Oh well. I'm just glad you guys keep reviewing them.

Wendy said...

Lori: There are days when I thank the good Lord that I'm a small fish in a big pond.

KB: Long live romance heroines who need to buy new lingerie every other week! LOL

AnimeJune: I really admire the blogs who "just" do reviews. It's a lot of work....uh, which is probably why I don't do it ;)

Rosario: There is so much variety now in blogs isn't there? Not like back in The Dark Ages (uh, 2003) when it was LLB, you and me spittin' in the wind.

Novelnelle: You have to keep it interesting to you, first and foremost. Otherwise, yeah - a chore. And don't we all have enough of those already?

Marie: Ana is the one blogger who consistently tackles trads. So yes, her blog is a MUST for fellow trad lovers.

Ana/Aneca: Keep on keeping on sister! I love that you review so many of the older titles - especially the trads! That was never a sub genre I totally got plugged into, but I do enjoy the occasional one as a palate cleanser.

Hilcia: That is the great thing about having your own blog. Just doing what you want! It's very liberating :)

Fia: I am going to check out that blog as soon as I catch up on comments here. I get a kick out of a lot of those Old Skool reviews.

Karen: I might have to employ that "close my eyes and just grab a random book" method for the TBR Challenge this year!

Sunita: LOL - I saw your comment, and I swear we literally cross posted!

I have gotten flack in the past about reviewing OP titles - but honestly? No flack now that I clearly mark somewhere in the post that the book IS OP. Which means for older titles, from now on, I think I'm going to employ the format I used for my TBR Challenge reads this year. Makes everything pretty clear for readers :)