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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Book Reviews: Can You Trust Book Bloggers?

Book Reviews: Can You Trust Book Bloggers?


The topic of book reviews is not a new one here on my blog. I even did a webinar about the What, Why, and How of Book Reviews a few years ago. It's one of those topics that comes up time and time again among book bloggers, authors, and readers.

I was recently chatting with my book blogging buddy Eline from Lovely Audiobooks (@lovelyaudiobook) about book reviews, book reviewers, and book blogging in general.  

Eline told me about a book discussion group she's part of on Facebook and how a lot of the ladies there don't read book blogs anymore because they find them to be dishonest. Always gushing about books they hated.


Honest book reviews: Can you trust book bloggers?



Unfortunately the true answer to this question is "it depends". 

I review books here on my blog and also post to Goodreads and Amazon. One of the reasons I do video reviews is to show I'm not afraid to put my face out there. I will only ever do an honest review and say what I really think of a book. If I can't think of anything nice to say about it, I won't say anything. At the same time, I'll never hype up a book I didn't enjoy. 

Reviews come in all different shapes and sizes, and that's a good thing. Variety keeps things interesting. I love it when I read a review that has a unique style to it, and there are some truly amazing book bloggers out there doing a fantastic job. 


As with everything in life, there are always a few people that spoil it for the rest of us, and book blogging is no different. 

Unfortunately there are some reviewers (and I use the term loosely), that don't even read the books they review. Others give false reviews being overly positive about a book they didn't really enjoy that much. These are the people that the Facebook group were talking about. They're in it for the money and hits. It's definitely a numbers game for these people. 

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great when people turn a passion into a business. That's what dreams are made of. Being able to do what you love for a living... that's the big goal for most of us. 

I'd also like to point out that not all big name book bloggers are fake. Lots of them really do read that many books, give honest reviews, and have been lucky enough and worked hard to build large followings that allow them to monetise their content. To those people I bow down and say "you're awesome!"

Then there are bloggers who go so far as to steal another book bloggers review and post it as their own. I kid you not. This happened to another book blogging friend of mine recently. The person literally did copy and paste of her whole review post (graphics included) and posted it to their own blog without giving credit, or a backlink, and published it under their own name. It wasn't a one off either. This person was stealing posts from a variety of sites. DMCA notices were sent and both Wordpress and Google have been contacted to get the site removed. 

I should point out that not all book bloggers are interested in making money from their book blogs. A lot of them post reviews just to spread their love of reading. They don't monetise their posts at all, or get sent review copies from authors and/or publishers. They buy all the books they read or check them out from their local library. 

Not all book bloggers have huge followings. In fact, the majority of book bloggers have a relatively small number of followers and, a lot of the time, people visiting these blogs don't engage by commenting on the post. 

This brings about an important question: Do we only get feedback from other bloggers and authors, but not from book buying readers?

Who reads book blogs?


I did some research on the topic by running a poll on Twitter. This is the results:

As you can see the majority of book bloggers voted that it's book bloggers who make up most of their blog audience. 

Now there's nothing wrong with that. Book bloggers are by nature avid readers, and do buy a lot of books. I also love how supportive the book blogging community is. 

I visit other book blogs regularly. I love reading book reviews, and have added a huge number of books to my TBR thanks to the reviews I've read. I've discovered books and authors I didn't even know existed. 

There are plenty of book bloggers I know I can trust have given an honest review. 

So to those people in the Facebook group (and non) that don't read book blogs anymore because they find them to be dishonest, please know that there are plenty of honest book bloggers out there. 

And to the book bloggers who don't think readers are reading their book blogs, try posting your reviews to other platforms as well. Goodreads is full of avid readers with no interest in blogging or writing a book of their own. They just love reading. 

Discuss the books you read on your social media channels too. Again this adds to your credibility and spreads the word that you blog about the books you read. 

Eline also did a blog post following our discussion. Read it here.


Book Reviews: Can You Trust Book Bloggers?

I'd love to know your thoughts about this. Who are some book bloggers you know always give honest reviews of the books they've read?

As a book blogger, are you writing your posts specifically for readers? Where else do you post your book reviews besides your book blog?

18 comments:
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  1. Thanks Jo, What a lovely post. I agree with every word. I have been blogging for nearly five years, I've built up a good following on social media (especially Twitter) through hard work and determination. We review so many books on the blog as there are a team of us. We all give 100% honest feedback and whilst we have very few reviews that are 1 or 2 stars (I think there are possibly four reviews with low star rating) that is mainly because we don't review books we DNF and that I go through each request before I accept it, working out if the book sounds like it would be a good read, which reviewer on my team might like it. I check out the ratings on Amazon/Goodreads (if the book is on there) If it only had bad reviews I decline a book. I agree there are some people out there that are in it for the free books (which some sell) to charge for reviews, and to only care about themselves and get the most followers and pretend to review a book. Luckily the bloggers I knwo are all wonderful and genuine.

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    1. The fact that your blog has a team of bloggers adds to the credibility of your reviews. No book is for everyone, and you therefore choose the right reviewer for each book based on their individual preferences. I find it odd when people post reviews for books they DNF. How can you rate a whole book if you only read part of it? I've read books that started off bad but then got better as they went on. I think your policy is a good one.

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  2. This post is great!
    I review books honestly because I do this for me, first and foremost. This is an creative outlet for me and fun way to track my reading. I also strongly value honesty, but always want to be tactful with my reviews, as to not put the author down for their hard work. It's a fine and there's a lot to think about when book blogging, but I always want people to know I'm telling them my honest opinion on every book I read.

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    1. It's OK to give a negative review if they book wasn't for you, but there is no need to be mean. Not wanting to hurt the authors feelings does not make a review dishonest. It's just doing a professional review. Criticism is hard to take but if it's constructive it's a good thing. This is why the "why" is so important.
      There's a lot of book bloggers like you who blog primarily for themselves. Not all bloggers are interested in making a business out of their blogs.

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  3. I appreciate what you and Eline have worked so hard to bring forward, I had no idea this was such a problem.

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    1. As with any community there is always some drama from time to time. There is also always a few that spoil things for the rest. It's just the way it is. The good news is that the percentage of "bad bloggers" is much smaller than the "good bloggers". Most book bloggers do read the books, are honest in their reviews, and have a genuine passion for wanting the spread the love of reading with others (regardless of whether they got the books for free or earn money from their blogs).

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  4. Great post! I would never post a review of a book that I didn't read, it's crazy that's some people are doing this!

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    1. I agree. I think they do it because they want to be seen as being influencers and want to jump on the latest trends. They hype books that are being hyped.

      Or on the other end of the spectrum, I've seen people group together to post false negative reviews to "destroy an author" because they don't agree with something that author did or said online. In this case, what does the gesture of the author have to do with the quality of the book? Does the fact that they made a comment about something non related, mean their book is suddenly no longer any good? Does it make a good book bad? The book is still the same book. For those that are not aware of the particular scandal the author has created, the book will be rated solely on it's quality.

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  5. Outstanding post, Jo!


    I'm with you on feeling frustrated by reviewers who don't actually read the books that they review. Unfortunately, I think a LOT of Booktubers especially have made careers out of this. They're really great at holding a book up to the screen and saying over and over again in a dozen different ways how great the book is, how wonderful the story is, and how fabulous the cover is without actually talking at all about the actual story.

    One booktuber I know of reviewed one book very positively - until that book was slammed by YA twitter as one of the dreaded "offensive titles." He then deleted his review and posted a public apology and admonition of the publishing industry in general for allowing the book to be published. It was so absurd to me, and painfully apparent then that he doesn't actually read the books he "reviews".

    I also came across a Goodreads review thief. She was a well-followed account, with a lot of reviews, until people started noticing that her reviews were actually stolen from other people and reposted. Goodreads ended up deleting her entire account when people reported it. It's so shameful that people will stoop to these levels just for clicks.

    My blog is monitized, but to be honest I don't know why. I don't have enough followers to even come close to earning money on it. I also can't seem to interest publishers in sending me advanced copies of books either, so technically this is a hobby that costs me money each month when I go out and buy more books. Still, I love the community of book reviewers I have found. Ya'll have become my friends and family with books - given that I don't have friends or family in my real life that enjoy reading like I do.

    Personally, I write my blog posts for the few people that are interested, and for myself. I want to hype up the books I loved to other readers, and inspire that desire to read in others. Also, I love looking back at my old reviews and remembering all the fond (or not so fond) memories I had of each book I've rated and reviewed.

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    1. Thank you Bentley. Booktube is particularly bad for this. It's something I've never understood. I do video reviews to add to my credibility. I find I can be more honest because I don't plan what I'm going to say, or edit it. It's just my raw feelings about the book in question.

      I know lots of smaller Booktubers that do amazing book reviews. They never have that commercial feel to them, that some bigger channels seem to adopt. By this I'm not saying all bigger Booktubers are fakes. There are lots that work hard, and give honest reviews. Unfortunately though the Booktube community is probably the niche of book bloggers that have the worst reputations.

      Review thieves are just plan strange. If you don't enjoy reading why pretend to be a book blogger? There are far more topics you could blog about that would get more traffic and earn more money. It just doesn't make sense to me why someone would do it.

      I'm the same as you, as in I don't have any real-life friends I can talk to about the books I read. For one, I prefer to read in English and so whilst I can discuss some of the better know books with my Italian friends, some things get lost in translation.

      I too love the community of book bloggers I've found. I've made some amazing friends through book blogging and value their opinions.

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  6. I personally love reading other blogs to see others viewpoints on books that i've read and I have discovered a lot of books and authors this way too. I feel like most of our audience members are bloggers because we do read the most books. So it makes sense. We love books and we love talking about them. Our community is one of the friendliest i've found and most supportive. There's very few people who are dishonest. I personally started doing this not for views but because I love books and writing and needed a place to vent about stories I read. The fact that I have viewers interested in what I have to say is just a bonus for me! I personally post to goodreads, amazon, twitter, facebook, and pinterest. Most of my views come from Pinterest and Twitter though. I love helping out authors and promoting their books. I will never give a dishonest review and have no problem writing about why I didn't like a book but I will never be mean about it. As readers, just like in life we are all going to have different opinions just because I didn't like a book doesn't mean someone else won't. I support all writers.

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    1. Emily, I felt like I could have written your comment. I feel exactly the same. I'm always interested to read others reviews for the books I've read and reviewed myself. It's interesting to see how they thought about it differently to me, or the things we both got from the book.
      I also get most traffic and interaction via Twitter, and agree that, for the most part, the book blogging community is very friendly and supportive.

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  7. I didn't realize there were bloggers who faked reviews. I know of the ones who give only positive and extremely good reviews but they do that only to help the authors. I will share this post for further discussion with my readers too.

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes

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    1. I don't like to give 1 or 2 star reviews. I prefer to opt for the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". I'm not out to damage anyone. If it's a 2 star but I'm edging towards 2 1/2 and there is at least something nice I say about it then I'll review. It's rare though as I know my reading tastes and tend to only pick books I know I'll probably enjoy.

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  8. You can spot a fake review, or an article that's just a generic "This book exists, buy it, or whatever" a mile off. If you can't build up and engage with your audience (and know who your audience is) then there's not really much point in reviewing for the sake of reviewing. You've got to have a passion for it. Bit confused by that whole "book bloggers making money" thing though, I mean surely anyone would say if they were 'on the take' ?

    Great thought provoking article this.

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    1. For me, blogging is about interacting with others. I want to talk to people and share our thoughts and ideas about things. It's the fun part. Getting to know others who have the same interests as me, and being able to share them is great. I don't see the point in reviewing for the sake of reviewing either. What's the point if you don't want to talk about the book? Same for those that steal others reviews and post them as their own. What's the point? You can't discuss a book you haven't read.

      Legally all bloggers need to state in a disclaimer if they are monetising their content, or received the product free of charge in exchange for a review. Same for sponsored content, and product placement. Not all do though.

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  9. Personally, I have never thought of book bloggers as dishonest. I never quite understood the way some book bloggers turn their noses up at monetizing. I understand if you don't want to do it, but I have run into some who think it's wrong for a book blogger to make any money doing what they love. It's okay for other niches, but wrong for book bloggers. That's the part that's always dumbfounded me. Great post! I'm off to check out what Eline had to say on the subject, as well :)

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    1. I agree. Why should book bloggers be any different from any other kind of blogger? Travel bloggers make money from their blogs, often get free or discounted services in exchange for reviews, and monetize their blogs in numerous ways and that's considered OK. If a book blogger gets free books, or tries to monetize their blog it means they're dishonest. Obviously not everyone thinks like this but it is a stigma that seems to hang around.

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