Jessa Crispin has been on an internet tour to let everyone know she is shutting down Bookslut, the website she founded many years ago. She's been busy.
Last week in an interview for The Guardian she said, "So we're not allowed to say, 'The Paris Review is boring as fuck!'" The Paris Review responded to their "boring as fuck" status by offering a discount code BORINGASFUCK to new subscribers. Well played.
I appreciate her honesty in these pieces. She has nothing to lose at this point, I suppose, but I can't agree with everything she's been saying. This week Crispin took on online book culture, which I take to include book bloggers, in another article for The Guardian. Her thoughts are that people writing about books these days are in it for the money and has nostalgia for the old days.
Back then (the early 2000s) the online book culture was run mostly by enthusiasts and amateurs, people who were creating blogs and webzines simply for the pleasure of it, rather than to build a career or a brand.Sure. But she goes on to write as if those people, me, don't exist anymore. Um, we're still here!
I have myself lamented the changes that have taken place in the book blogging world. I've been book blogging for nearly 10 years. New bloggers arrived on the scene, the ones looking for the "free" books, the instant audience, but I think many of those bloggers found out pretty quickly how much work and little payoff there is in book blogging. If you are book blogging for the money, I have some bad news for you.
Even with the ads on my site, the ones that need you to click on them, I've a yearly income of approximately $20 from blogging. I can take my daughter to Starbucks twice with that kind of dough! Making it raaaaaaain!!!
It is true that I don't have a crazy amount of traffic. Yes, as an enthusiast I don't "get much attention." But I don't believe that attention is everything, as she says. I do like to have people read what I write, of course, but if a few dozen people read my review of whatever I picked up at the library last month, that's fine. I've made friends online, people who do read what I write and I've had some fun discussions with them here or on Twitter or their blogs or wherever. And, you know what, I've rarely had to deal with trolls, or had some kind of controversy involving how I communicate with publishers or any of that drama.
I get to write about what I want. I do write about the "books everyone has already heard of." I also write about books I bought, borrowed, or found for free. I've written about forgotten books, and books no one has ever heard about in a hundred years. Book blogs do give a platform, however small it is, to those books that need the attention. It's not clickbait, but a good review means something to the reader that loved that book too.
At the end of the piece, Crispin says that money is not the reason she's shutting down Bookslut. Her reasons are much the same as the ones I've seen from bloggers who gave up book blogging. Other interests are dividing her time. That happens. Book blogging is a time consuming hobby. Reading, then reviewing a book takes a lot of time. I found it difficult when I was working, and you would think that not working would free up all my time to write, but no. I have a busy teen, appointments, I exercise, I have an online shop that requires attention, other hobbies, and a husband. So many bloggers have left after a big life change: wedding, college, a baby, a move to another country. It makes me sad, but I understand.
Some of us enthusiasts are still here. Maybe we're not as prolific as we once were or we've spread ourselves throughout the internet. But we're here if you would just look.