For the second year, I joined the ArmchairBEA (#armchairbea) twitter parties. Over 600 book bloggers signed up for the Armchair BEA event; I had to adjust the refresh rate several times to allow tweetchat to keep up with the conversation.
Like last year, the topics ranged far and wide. Fifty Shades of Grey was the "controversial" topic du jour, but I had the impression most book bloggers were tired of hearing about it by now. We discussed whether we are attracted to pretty covers and whether it bothered us when publishers changed formats or trade dress for series. We discussed which books and genres we were drawn now compared to when we were younger. Strangely I had an easier identifying what influenced me as a child than guide me now as an adult. I read so widely it's hard to pin down what influences me. I can point to which topics or books influenced certain writing projects, but not necessarily my professional or personal life.
But blogging wasn't far from our discussion either. Everyone traded their tips and advice for social media and interacting with publishers and authors. The conversation made me look critically at what I've done or not. I realized I'm a bit of social wallflower when it comes to book blogging standards. I have twitter/tumblr/pinterest/etc but I’ve never integrated them or made them part of my book blog. I'm horrible about replying to comments on my blog, unless there's a direct question. I enjoy twitter's give and take, especially being able to let an author know I’ve enjoyed their book. But I’m always worried I put off the non-comics/non-geeky crowd with my usual topics.
What I enjoyed about the twitter parties was seeing the range of the responses and usually the emotion they conveyed. One thing was quite clear: book bloggers are very particular about their books and their habits. I also really appreciated interacting with new people outside the comics blogging sphere. Sometimes you need to gain some perspective, especially when you’re feeling tapped out.
Every time I hear that reading is dead, I think about the e-readers I've seen crop up on my Metro commute. And most iPads I've seen have been used for reading, whether books, comics or magazines. Libraries are struggling to keep up with the demand for e-books. And then I look at the strong book blogging community and the countless readathons/readalongs/challenges I can’t keep up with. I remember all the young girls in line for the YA event a few months back, happily clutching their books and discussing their favorites at length. Booksellers, yes, are having troubles, it's true, but I don’t see reading losing any steam any time soon.