There's a lot in the video that I find striking. Maybe it's because I've been writing about books for so long (writing versus any other form of media) and maybe it's because I was just thinking about social media and the reviewer-publisher relationship the other day, but it seems to me like Sanne is viewing things differently from me, even though we should be coming from the same place.
And so I'm wondering. Do social media sites really influence the way people read (or the way we consume any content, for the matter)? My instinct would be to say "no". Book blogs, I could argue, are much more in the way of traditional print media. Except that's obviously not true. Some book blogs, yes, mostly eschew the notion of social media, but many (I'd even say by now most) book blogs have integrated their blogging with Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, Pintrest, etc. Bloggers tweet publishers to let them know that they just reviewed one of their books. Bloggers host giveaways and contests through Facebook. They display every one of their books-read on Goodreads. And, of course, the blogging itself. Is blogging really akin to a print, critical review? Or is it something, as Sanne notes, more personal? And more believable as a result?
Obviously there are generalizations at hand here. While I would agree with Sanne that I personally would be more inclined to take advice from a reviewer I know (even if only superficially, anonymously, through the internet), it's not always true. Simply put, there are bloggers I've followed for years that I don't trust (different tastes, rating inflation, etc.). The personal, social aspect isn't what convinces me; I'm certain of most reviewers' sincerity. What convinces me is a good track record. You can tweet as much as you like, but it won't change the quality of your reviews.
Generations matter. I belong to a generation that was raised on the internet. We have been encouraged from an early age to share - share content, share our opinions, share our statuses... share everything. This is a concept my parents find foreign (and somewhat appalling). This is a concept even I find somewhat jarring at times (hence my anonymity and lack of serious social media interaction**). But the fact that a generation of readers has been raised expecting information to flow freely influences how that generation will behave as consumers. John Green's popularity is a perfect example of this. He is a rock-star writer for many, many, many readers, in large part because of his prolific and open online persona. He has made his personality and his life part of his author profile. At the end of the day, it's so much easier to enjoy and appreciate a novel when you like and understand its author. I understand John Green after having watched hundreds of his videos - it colors how I read his books and how I view his characters. How can it not?
Mediums matter. Reading a long post about my thoughts on social media and book reviewing might be boring to some people, but if I used my (crappy) webcam and did cool jump-cuts, it could be more accessible to them. Reading a book review on a blog could be more engaging than a review in the NYT Book Review. Getting a recommendation from a Facebook friend could mean more than Goodread's recommendation algorithm. It's entirely subjective, but mediums do matter. Otherwise we wouldn't distinguish.
Which leaves me with one last thought: publishers.
I'll probably be discussing this more in depth over the next few weeks***, but Sanne tosses out a small reference to the reviewer-publisher relationship near the midpoint of the video. She reminds reviewers that they can just ask for review copies - they don't necessarily need to be offered by the publishers. This is something I've known about and seen over the years, but I'll be honest that I never really made the connection between asking the publishers for review copies and social media. Except it's sort of the same thing, isn't it? It's all about sharing - sharing with the publisher that you want to read a book and sharing with your blog followers (or Youtube subscribers) that you liked (or disliked) a book. Publishers give out books for review because reviews benefit them. Why shouldn't they want reviewers approaching them, essentially guaranteeing them publicity and attention? Why shouldn't they use social media to determine who best to review their books?
I'm curious to hear from those who use social media about how it influences their book buying and/or their book reviewing. I'm curious to hear from people who avoid social media to understand why they don't use it. I'm curious about how publishers view the social media aspect and I'm curious about how an older generation - one that didn't grow up with the instant gratification and constant sharing we know today - views this growing reliance on social media. Thoughts?
* My subconscious is clearly trying to remind me to finish my math homework, yes thank you I noticed the word integral, now go away.
** Also my early aversion to use of the words "I" and "me". I've gotten over it since I first started this blog.
*** Or months. Or years, since my track record is not very good in this area...