Saturday, 25 September 2010
On competition, community, and my In My Mailbox participation
So I created I Was A Teenage Book Geek. I wrote a few reviews, and followed a few of the more interesting blogs I'd found. Then the first Sunday rolled around, and suddenly my reader was filled with a collection of posts all with the same title: In My Mailbox. I'd bought books that week too, so I joined right in and posted my link over at The Story Siren. I discovered new blogs that week, and other bloggers visited mine for the first time. I also drooled a little at the selections of books others had received, but I considered that a good thing. In My Mailbox seemed like something of a meeting place for this community I'd just discovered, and I'm pretty sure that's exactly what Kristi at The Story Siren intends it to be.
However, along the way, I've realised that not everyone feels the same. I've heard it suggested that IMM promotes jealousy and competition among book bloggers. That seeing people post huge lists of ARCs they've been sent that week smacks of boasting. That some take issue with bloggers who seem to receive tons of 'free' books for review while not buying many. And even that some people don't deserve the books they get.
Now, personally, I couldn't care less how many review copies other people receive. I follow some bloggers who seem to get an entire shelf full of books every week, and I read their IMM's with a mixture of awe and fascination. When I started blogging I didn't even consider the possibility that I'd ever be sent books for review - most of the people who received them in their IMM posts at the time seemed to be US bloggers, and I'm from the little ol' UK. I didn't think twice about it. But since by some happy turn of events I do now receive review books, I take my role as reviewer seriously. I try to be as conscientious as I can. But a whole shelf full of books in a week is a whole lot of conscientiousness. I admire people who review five or six books a week, but I don't have the time for that. I try not to accept more than I can read.
But what I do care about is the potential tackiness of my own IMM posts. Over recent months, I've begun to receive more review books. Since I don't like to let my TBR pile get too out of control I've tried to curb my own book buying to balance it out. (Because seriously, the TBR can get way out of control, and I think it's generally best to take action before it grows teeth and attacks the neighbour's labradoodle, y'know?) The problem with this is, my IMM posts begin to look like I don't buy many books any more. Which means, they're sometimes full of review books. So... yes, I can concede that it might look like I'm a show off.
I'm considering dropping my own IMM posts, but I'd like to get some second opinions before I make up my mind. What's your view? Do you like or loathe IMM? Is it the great weekly community-building event we think it is, or is it something that makes us bloggers look bad to the non-bloggers who read our posts? Am I stressing over nothing? All words of wisdom welcome here.