All tagged Blogging

Links & Things: It's Been Awhile Edition

I haven't posted my link roundups in quite some time and there's a reason for that. I've had a problem with those posts being lifted verbatim or nearly-verbatim and re-published. This has, understandably, been pretty upsetting, so I stepped back from compiling them until I could figure out a way to still share but mitigate the chances of that happening.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for that, but I'm hoping that by diversifying my linkage content, it'll be less-appealing to folks who don't understand attribution and plagiarism. *cross fingers*

Links + Things: Blogging Ethics; SI's Sexism and Racism; Indie Booksellers Sue Amazon/Publishers; and Taking Down "The Following"

Lots of interesting news this week, including a bit of a scandal in the blogging world, discussion of the WTFery of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and lots of publishing news.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a roundup of cheap ebooks discounted as part of Amazon's Kindle Big Deal--there are a lot of good ones this time.


You could argue that affiliate links aren’t technically ads, but that misses the point. If you slap a banner ad on the top of your website, at least readers know it’s an advertisement and they can take it with a great big grain of salt. But when they read a glowing review from someone they trust, then click through to place an order for that book–without knowing said reviewer is getting a kickback–isn’t that worse?

I'm sure I'm not alone in my fascination ​with the Brainpickings "scandal" that was all over the nerdy corner of the internet this week. It seems that the popular site's claims of being ad-free are definitely a case of parsing, as affiliate links are likely a considerable source of income for the blog, which solicits donations under the auspices of remaining "ad free." 

My take? What this issue comes down to is the importance of transparency and erring on the side of caution in ensuring that you're not misrepresenting yourself to readers.​ This hasn't been touched on, but one of the things that bothers me most about the "ad free" language is that it's backed up by a .org URL, which insinuates a not-for-profit status. (I also question the costs and hours the blog author cites, because both seem out of whack estimates.)

I don't begrudge anyone for using affiliate links and monetizing their sites--clicks on Amazon links pay the hosting bills around here (thank you!)--but I really don't understand why it's still common practice in the day of FTC rules ​for blogs to be sketchy in this way (this reminds me of the controversy about sponsored content on The Atlantic Blog).

Disclose, disclose, disclose. It's really that simple.

I Love... Book Blogs

In honor of Valentines Day I thought I'd write about something I really love: a good book blog.


One of the main arguments against book blogs is the variable quality of their writing. Traditionally published reviews generally get a more thorough editing and a news-outlet's stamp of approval, while blogs can be more hit or miss, without any editors at all. This system can make for inconsistent quality, but to dismiss the entire idea because of a few typos (or cheerleader-y reviews) would be foolish. Honing in on good-quality blogs that hold themselves to high standards (like Clear Eyes, Full Shelves *ahem*) means getting the quality writing while taking advantage of all the benefits of a blog.

One of the reasons I prefer book reviews on blogs to those in newspapers/magazines/trade publications/etcetera is the community available online.

I can start a conversation about an online review, share my own feedback, or ask questions of the reviewer. Basically, blogs provide us with communities and the chance to interact with other readers. Book reviews transform from individual opinion pieces into ongoing conversations with multiple perspectives.

Ten Wishes for the Year in Reading

I’m not one for resolutions—I completely agree with the theory that goal-setting can actually lead to failure or mediocrity. In fact, the lowest-functioning organizations and people I’ve worked with have all been extraordinarily preoccupied with goal attainment.


I participate in the Goodreads reading challenge for the sole purpose of having that handy count of books read in the sidebar, not because I want to reach a specific threshold. (Though I will admit, two years in a row, I’ve been a couple of books shy of 150 during the last week of the year and have power read through to ensure I have a nice, round number.)

So in the spirit of ignoring the idea of goals, I’m eschewing the reading resolutions posts that abound on the web today and would like to share a bit of what I’d like to see in the upcoming year in reading, publishing and book culture.

#1 An end to the divisive, unproductive, ridiculous discussions of e-reading versus print reading.

Why anyone cares in what format people choose to read books is beyond me, particularly in a culture in which a quarter of the United States population has not read a single book in the last year. Whatever helps ensure people get a book—digital, print or etched in a stone tablet—in their hands is fine by me, and it should be for anyone who truly cares about promoting reading culture. 

#2 An end to the term, “Mommy Porn.”

Thanks to the legion of ridiculous articles about 50 Shades of Grey, “mommy porn” is used to dismiss the reading choices of women by people who are threatened by women reading about S-E-X. I wrote about this early last year and it continues to frustrate me. 

Note: This post is part of An Unconventional Blog Tour, organized by Kelly and Liz to highlight some important topics in blogging. Make sure you visit all of the participants this week—there are really wonderful contributions to this different sort of blog tour. 

{One way? No way.}

In “real life,” I teach at a local college, where my focus is on digital media and communications, including a course specifically in blogging, as well as three other classes containing blogging units. When Kelly asked me to participate in the Unconventional Blog Tour (and, um… I still suspect I was accidentally added to the original email list—because there’s no way I should be included with these awesome, established book bloggers), I immediately thought of drawing on one of the most difficult sections in each of my classes: the challenge of finding your unique voice on the web. 

My students usually struggle with getting over the hump where they cannot fathom that they have anything unique or original to contribute—they just don’t see themselves having a voice that’s all that special. However, invariably, when I start digging deeper in our course discussions, all sorts of interesting angles and perspectives bubble to the surface. Yet, I believe that they do have something to say—something no one else can. Seriously. 

The thing is, there are so many folks out there saying that to be a blogger you must do this, and must never, ever do that, and you have to follow X, Y and Z Very Important Unbreakable Rules of Blogging. As a result, both aspiring and established bloggers often don’t allow themselves to think about what their own unique voice is, which is the fast track to burnout and boredom. 

I’ve found that that problem is far worse in the book blogging world,* where review copies of books serve as a sort of stand-in currency.  

How can bloggers find and preserve their distinctive voices? Well, it’s hard, but here’s what I tell my students, and it’s helped them discover some very unique and rewarding paths over the years. 


You’re Creative: You. Yes, You.**