All tagged Social Media

Podcast #13: Technology, Introversion & "Nostalgia Lit"

We were interested in the fervor of excitement around comedian Louis C.K.'s comments about the negative impact of technology--specifically smartphone technology--on modern life. (You can watch a video here.) It was actually a subject we delved into in our book club meeting back in September.

Believe it or not, there's an intersection between the ideas of technology, introversion and how it all meshes up with our experiences as readers--and if you stick around for the entire podcast, we'll get there. 

Plus, you get to hear the Sarah-Laura Twitter friendship origin story, including Laura's peer-pressuring me to start a blog! 

As always, you can listen to the podcast by streaming on this page, downloading the MP3 below or by subscribing in iTunes. If you're an iTuner, we very much appreciate your rating the podcast, as it helps us to show up in iTunes searches. We're also now on Stitcher Radio, so if you prefer that app, you can subscribe here. 

Has Goodreads forgotten readers?

When I first discovered the book nerd social networking site Goodreads a couple of years ago, I was thrilled. 

Kramer Books & Afterwards

Despite that I use social media as an important part of my work, and teach classes on the subject, the only one of these platforms I’d personally enjoyed was Twitter (which is still my absolute favorite)—until Goodreads. On Goodreads, like on Twitter, I found my people.

Once I joined, Goodreads quickly became part of my daily routine. I loved reading other readers’ recommendations and perspectives—and I adored finding books that I would never have considered. Goodreads has broadened my horizons as a reader and opened my mind to new genres and writers in way that’s been extremely rewarding. 

For a couple of years, I puttered along on Goodreads without any hiccups. But things changed.

I’ve never amassed loads of friends on the platform, mostly because, as with Facebook, the terminology of “friend” is one I’m not wholly comfortable with. “Friend,” to my old school mind, implies a specific sort of relationship, so I tend to “follow” Goodreaders whose reviews I’m interested in, rather than friending them. However, I generally do accept any friend requests I get on the platform (more on that in a bit), unlike on Facebook where I try to keep things limited to people I at least have an email sort of relationship with. But really, my friend numbers are teeny, tiny compared to most folks (as of today, I have 135 Goodreads friends). 

But, a few months ago I started getting a lot of friend requests from people with author status on Goodreads. The pattern went like this:

  1. Receive friend request from person with author status.
  2. Blindly accept friend request.
  3. Receive message from new “friend” recommending a book they wrote. (Always self-published.) 
  4. Delete message & remove my new “friend” from my friends list.
  5. Rinse and repeat. 

Initially, I complained to Goodreads about this pattern. It felt “spammy” and not in the spirit of the Goodreads community. Furthermore, it felt like it was an attempt at circumventing the paid promotional opportunities for authors on the platform and against the general guidelines of the Goodreads Author Program.

Goodreads’ response was disappointing, to say the least. Their oh-so-helpful recommendation was to unfriend people if I didn’t want to receive messages and recommendations of this nature. 

List-O-Rama: 5 Book-Related Trends I Wish Would Stop, Stop Right Now

It’s amazing when you start paying attention, how many publishing and book-related things are straight-up annoying after awhile. Some of these are plot devices, some are publishing-related, but they all annoy me and need to stop, stop right now. 

Photo by Sarah.

Delayed Ebook Releases

Okay, I get it. Publishers hold back the ebook releases so their books have a better shot at the bestseller lists. However, as a reader I don’t really care. If a book has a publish date of, say, June 1, I expect to be able to by either the paper book or digital version on that date. Don’t make me wait an extra week or two. This happened a lot with mass market paperbacks this summer and I cannot tell you how irriating it is when publishers (or anyone) make it hard for me to give them money. I can only speak for myself, but this doesn’t make me rush out and buy the paper book instead of the ebook—instead, it means I often forget to buy the ebook when it’s released the following week.

On the other hand, one of the things I’ve been most impressed with from publishers lately is Simon Pulse releasing several books simultaneously as hardcovers, paperbacks and ebooks—letting reader choose what works best for them is smart.

On Niceties and Negativity

Who doesn’t love random cute dog photos? This is one of my dogs, Ruairi (Rory) Boy.

One of the most inexplicable things I read last week (and there were a lot of them) was Jacob Silverman’s critique of readers and writers in Slate, in which he claims that both groups are far too nice online, and makes a rather bizarre argument against enthusiasm. 

Whereas critics once performed one role in print and another in life—Rebecca West could savage someone’s book in the morning and dine with him in the evening—social media has collapsed these barriers. Moreover, social media’s centrifugal forces of approbation—retweets, likes, favorites, and the self-consciousness that accompanies each public utterance—make any critique stick out sorely.

Is this Silverman’s backdoor method of slamming amateur reviews such as myself who enthusiastically evangelize about books we believe in? Is it just another example of the literary establishment being threatened by regular ol’ readers’ influence? Perhaps it’s push-back against a publishing climate which requires that authors self-promote and engage (gasp!) directly with readers? Does he have a problem with the success of so many female authors via social media?

I won’t speculate as to the motivation behind this anti-enthusiasm manifesto, but for me as a reader, all of those messages ring loud and clear as the real root of Silverman’s piece. But mostly, I am very bothered by the following premises of his argument: 

  1. That readers and reviewers online are expected to only be cheerleaders of books and authors; and
  2. That we need more negativity.

I am also extremely troubled by two other points in Silverman’s piece that aren’t as overt: 

  1. That this culture of niceness is women’s fault; and
  2. That negative opinions are somehow more “true” than positive ones.

There’s something to be said for being nice.