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Book Blogging Survey Results Part 4: Reading Habits and Blogger Milestones

First of all, apologies to everyone who reads this blog who isn’t a book blogger. I feel like this week has been pretty blogger-centric, which isn’t my usual posting plan. But since Nonfiction November officially kicks off on Monday, I can almost guarantee I’ll be back to talking about the thing everyone cares about, books, soon.

With that out of the way, I’m really excited to share the last of the posts about the results of a book blogger survey that Shannon (River City Reading), Jennifer (Literate Housewife) and I put together last month. If you’ve missed it, we’ve had three posts with survey results so far:

If you haven’t checked out this posts, I highly encourage you to do so. While some of the responses led to more questions, I think there are some interesting points there too.

In this last post, I’m going to look at the responses to two of the open-ended questions that we asked about reading habits and what it takes to feel like an established blogger. Since these questions were open-ended, we got a huge variety of responses. I tried to go through a “code” each one based on the general sentiment to see if there were any trends. After each graph, I’ll try to share some more of the specifics that I noticed.

impacted reading

The most common response to our first question was that blogging has led about 33 percent of book bloggers to read a larger variety of books than they previously read. There were many examples, but most specifically mentioned trying new genres or finding new favorite authors because of book blogging. While a good number of bloggers said they read more (about 20 percent), others said they read less because they spend reading time working on reviews or blog projects.

About 12 percent of the responses I tallied mentioned reading more new releases, or being familiar with upcoming or “buzzy” books. A small number, about 5 percent, specifically said that blogging has not impacted their reading at all.

It’s important to note that all of these things (aside from reading widely) had comments that were positive and negative. For example, many bloggers who said they read more also mentioned that they felt some pressure to read more or faster so they always had blog content. Others who said they read more critically (reading with a blog post or review in mind) said they missed just reading for pleasure. There were also bloggers who said they missed the serendipity that comes with reading backlist titles. And several bloggers mentioned they spend less time re-reading or reading long books as a result of pressures from book blogging.

People had many really articulate things to say on this front. These were some of my favorite comments:

  • “Can I just share the BEST thing about my blog? All my life I have been considered “odd” (aka “too smart”) because I read voraciously. Through blogging I have met SO MANY kindred spirits — amazing people who read as much and more than I do. I love love love the fact that my blog has connected me with people who love and appreciate books as much as I do, without thinking all that reading is “weird”. :)”
  • “The books I read for review are less enjoyable because I have to approach them differently and take notes. I also pay more attention to quality of writing, and when a story is poorly written, I struggle and even become depressed about giving bad reviews, because people worked hard to write these books, even if I do think they’re garbage.”
  • “I read so much more now. I’ve upped reading on my priorities list when it comes to my free time. This means less television and movie watching – less sitting around doing nothing.”
  • “I feel like the only books I’m reading these days are ARCs. I have a list, in Microsoft Word of all the ARCs in my possession, separated by month of publication. Every time I review one, I cross it off the list and feel a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. But I wonder what things will be like when I don’t have any ARCs left to review – when the page is completely wiped clean. Freedom in my reading choices is hard to imagine – and when did it get like this?”
  • “I’m not rereading as much as I used to, and it’s the one thing about blogging I dislike the most. I’m not sure how or if I can fix it, but I’m going to try my best.”


Another open-ended question we asked was whether there was a point that bloggers felt established. I didn’t tally how many people mentioned a specific date or number of years since I didn’t think that was especially telling. Instead, I looked at what kinds of events make bloggers feel like they’ve “made it.” Common responses included being contacted by authors and publishers, seeing the number of followers or comments growing, and connecting with other bloggers. A small number of people mentioned meeting bloggers in person or attending a major conference like Book Expo America.

The most interesting thing to me, however, is that nearly a third of bloggers who responded said they didn’t feel established at all. And this isn’t just an age thing — bloggers of all ages and experience levels reported feeling like they weren’t really established. While that could just be in the nature of the question, I also think there’s something comforting in the idea that there are many of us who don’t feel like we’ve really made it yet.

Actually, another interesting thing: getting contacted by publishers and being part of “the industry” is also a pretty big piece of making a blogger feel established, particularly for bloggers who have been writing between 1 and four years. As much as we sometimes want to get away from the whole publishing thing, getting your first ARC or e-mail from a publisher is still considered a milestone for a good chunk of bloggers.

Here are a few representative comments in full:

  • “I still sometimes struggle with feelings that I’m not doing enough, or well enough, especially in comparison with other bloggers. And I try very hard not to pay too much attention to stats like page hits and number of followers, because although they’re going up, they’re going up very slowly. I try to remember that I don’t blog for the numbers; I do it because I enjoy it.”
  • “I started blogging about books before ARCs and all of the pressure associated with publishers/authors/books. While I occasionally accept books for review I do not let it get in the way of my reading pleasure and would much rather read books from my shelf. Because of this I think I have a different idea of book blogging than some of the newer folks? I’ve always been a book blogger but I don’t know how “established” others would consider me.”
  • “I felt comfortable after a year, confident after around 18 months, and in my third year I finally gave up caring too much about my stats, enjoying blogging just for the sake of being part of the community.”
  • “About six months after I started blogging I saw that book bloggers were much more supportive than any other genre of blogging for me. I felt like ‘one of the gang’ pretty quick but I still feel I run a small blog.”

I’m not really sure how to conclude this. I’m so happy we were able to get so many bloggers to participate. I think they are a few questions we wish we’d asked differently or could have dug into further, but overall I’m pretty proud of this project and what we’ve been able to learn about the current state of book blogging.

I’d still love some enterprising Ph.D student to do a dissertation on the book blogging community though. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading November 1, 2013, 5:28 am

    Kim, this is so great! I love that you turned the open-ended responses into charts. There were several things I thought of that we should have asked, too (more about genre, blogging platforms, etc), but as amateurs throwing things together on a whim, it wasn’t too shabby!

    • Kim November 3, 2013, 10:00 am

      In retrospect, I wish we’d asked about what “genre” bloggers consider themselves. I’d be curious if age plays into that (like if there are more “young” YA bloggers, since it seems like that community is growing rapidly).

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) November 1, 2013, 7:00 am

    Thanks to all of you for putting this together. The results have been fascinating!

  • Meg November 1, 2013, 9:12 am

    Very interesting, especially the idea of feeling “established” as a blogger. I was definitely in the camp that felt I’d “made it” when publishers began contacting me.

    • Kim November 3, 2013, 10:02 am

      Looking back, I think that was an important first step for me too. But the moments I remember even better are when I was recognized by other book bloggers (either through things like BBAW or informally as mentions in posts or something like that). At this point, mentions by other bloggers mean more to me than the books do (although no denying books are an awesome perk).

  • C.J. @ ebookclassics November 1, 2013, 10:37 am

    Great survey! Very interesting to read the results and tune in to what other bloggers are thinking and feeling.

  • Serena November 1, 2013, 12:31 pm

    I really am enjoying this project you’ve all done together and with how the bloggers have responded….I feel less “alone” 🙂

    • Kim November 3, 2013, 10:02 am

      I felt that way too, especially getting to see how I think of myself compared to other book bloggers.

  • Jeanne November 1, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Definitely less alone. I did a double-take with the response about reading voraciously and finding kindred spirits because I thought to myself “wait, I didn’t write that, did I?”

    • Kim November 3, 2013, 10:03 am

      I loved that comment too. The moment I read it I thought YES, ME TOO!

  • Simon T (Stuck-in-a-Book) November 1, 2013, 3:56 pm

    It’s all so interesting! Thanks for doing this.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End November 2, 2013, 7:46 pm

    Y’all are awesome for running this survey. I don’t know what conclusions are to be drawn about this either, but it’s been fascinating and great to read the posts y’all have done about blogging.

    • Kim November 3, 2013, 10:03 am

      I wish I were better at statistical analysis. I think there are a ton more conclusions to be drawn here, I’m just not math-y enough to figure them out!

  • Elizabeth November 3, 2013, 12:23 pm

    THANKS for all your work..this is great.

    I feel established especially when the publishers write and ask if I would be interested in reviewing a book by a well-known author. 🙂

    Author requests help me to feel good about my blog too.

    Have a great day.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

  • FictionFan November 3, 2013, 1:28 pm

    All very interesting posts – thanks for doing this. 🙂

    As to feeling established, I guess that’s when you start having your own little ‘crowd’ of people with similar tastes whose recommendations you trust and who feel the same way about you. I got into it partly because of being contacted by publishers already via reviewing on Amazon, one of whom in particular was keen for me to blog, so that wasn’t quite as big a deal for me with regards to the blog. But it’s still nice when it happens!

    • Kim November 5, 2013, 5:57 pm

      I definitely thing being in a crowd helps with feeling established. It’s like going to a new school and finding a group of kids to sit at for lunch.

  • Rebecca @ Love at First Book November 3, 2013, 3:56 pm

    Once again, this is great. I love the featured excerpts that bloggers wrote, too!

  • Laurie C November 4, 2013, 5:41 am

    All the survey results have been really interesting to read, but I can see that it would seem like shop talk to non-bloggers! I also wondered about the genre and age correlation that you mention here. I couldn’t remember if I had made any comments, but the one about trying to remember that blogging is not about numbers of page-views and followers sounded like it could have been mine!

  • Amateur Reader (Tom) November 4, 2013, 9:27 am

    You all did a great job with this survey, both putting it together, encouraging participation, and thinking about the results. It has been most interesting.

    Thanks for the hard work. It was worth it.

  • Aarti November 4, 2013, 10:28 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t feel established as a book blogger! I’ve been doing it for YEARS (8+, at this point) and I am still just amazed by how quickly some blogs grow with the comments and the snazzy headers and the ads and all that, while mine… well, there’s not much that’s snazzy about it! But it’s still there!

    I don’t know what would make me feel established as a blogger. I suppose after a certain number of followers, you just ARE? But I don’t think I even know how to read my stats correctly, so I don’t think that would help me. And I’ve never been to BEA. And I think I was one of the early bloggers, so I was offered ARCs pretty early on in my “career.” (Though, YES, that was very exciting when it happened!) I think for me, feeling established would involve being KNOWN for something. Like, Jenny is known for her fantastic labels 🙂

    • Kim November 5, 2013, 5:59 pm

      It is hard to figure out what the formula is for “taking off” blogging. I think a lot of it is just reaching out and being “out there,” which can be hard!

      Being “known” for nonfiction does help me feel established, so you might be on to something it. Maybe part of it is having something that stands out with your blog, like Jenny’s labels, that people can associate in their heads. It’s all complicated!

  • Barb @ leavesandpages November 10, 2013, 7:25 pm

    What an ambitious project, and what interesting responses. Thanks for putting this together. And I notice that I am right-down-the-centre average when compared to everyone else! 😉