I didn’t want to talk about this again. Despite my best efforts to try to remove myself from what I started, I can’t, and the truth is, I own it and I’m okay with it. What I hoped would start a conversation did. It’s been a grueling few days, and I made the conscious decision to not follow the blog posts that popped up, the Twitter conversations that emerged, the civil and not-so-civil comments left on my original piece. I didn’t need to further explain myself or my thoughts. I couldn’t have been more clear where I stood.
But I want to point out that this isn’t a new conversation in the least. This has been going on for a few years now. The fact it’s getting attention now, though, signals to me that maybe we’re ready to start figuring out a solution.
I can’t talk a whole lot more beyond that because I know there are wheels in motion to make change happen. Actual, real change. It feels like I — we — have finally been heard on this issue.
What I wanted to do was round up all my old posts on this topic so that new readers and those who stopped by thinking this was some sort of plea for attention understand that it was not. Or that those who are new readers know this is a charge I’ve been championing for a while now. If you want to think about this like a book, I’ll phrase it this way: here’s the back story. They all go together. They all make where we are right now, at this strange tipping point, make a little more sense.
Something I’ll add, too, just because I think it’s something worth stating — people grow and change and adapt in whatever it is they do. Who I was as a blogger and a librarian in 2009, when this blog started, is different than who I am as a blogger and a librarian now. You become more mature the longer you do something and you become more attune to yourself and to what and how other people are going to react. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t make it very long.
BEA 2011 in Review: It’s Not All About the Books
“That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate bloggers who aren’t professionals, because there certainly are, but rather, there are some bloggers who are clearly only in it for free stuff.”
- I linked to a Publisher’s Weekly article in this post about the YA Buzz panel, wherein the discussion of grabbiness comes up.
On Being Critical
“Being classy is responding appropriately, no matter what the forum. Being classy is not firing off a blog post about it without thinking through everything and figuring out a way to state my opinion without devaluing or belittling the opinions of others. Being classy is giving myself room to cool off when someone tells me I have no idea what I’m talking about. Being classy is not diving into drama to create more of it.
Being classy is being critical.”
Librarians, Bloggers & The Lines Between
“I like to think of the book world as a type of eco-system. We all grow and thrive when we allow one another to do so. This means feeding and keeping one another in check. It means being respectful and thoughtful every step of the way. When you’re contributing the good, you get the good back. When you’re not, you’re only harming your environment.”
On ARCs, Ethics, and Speaking Up
“[T]he value in an ARC is the value in what it does for the book. An ARC and a book aren’t the same thing — the ARC precedes the book, and the ARC can help push sales of the book through early buzz. That’s why they exist and why bloggers have become part of the publicity machine. If you’re truly invested in helping promote books and reading, then you promote the purchase of the book, and you work toward halting the buying and selling of ARCs.”
Competition, Envy, and the Fine Print
“It’s our responsibility as bloggers to stand up and choose whether or not we participate. It’s our responsibility to decide whether or not we’re going to let ourselves get anxious or nervous about them, too. It’s our responsibility to speak up and speak out.
We blog because of the freedom it allows us. The only way to keep it free is to remember we have the right to say no thanks and we have the right to step out when we’re not comfortable with how things are going.”
Who Are We and What Do We Do?
“When a valid and important topic worth having a dialog about emerges, so often it devolves, turning into mud-slinging, rather than discussion. Drama, rather than discourse. Having all of these tools at our disposal to have these conversations turn into means for guessing, assuming, devaluing.”
You Can Like What You Like
“We live in a world where the louder you are and the more you talk, the more perception of power you have. Where the more you produce, the more you’re valued. It’s unfair, but it’s true. We’re a world that focuses heavily on the notion of product and of end result and one that shies away from thinking about or exploring process in and of itself. We want a tangible outcome, a defined start and finish. In being this way, so much of the beauty in the act of doing something is overlooked and devalued. So often we chide ourselves if our process to do something takes a long time or requires more than we expected. Rather than allowing ourselves or others to allow the pleasure in the act of doing, we reward based on the result.”
Truth: Blogging is Hard
“Just like an author worries about how their book will do when it’s out in the world, I worry about what I write and post right here. It’s not the same but it is the same. It’s sharing a part of yourself and your thinking and even if it’s something you’re passionate about and love doing, it’s still work. It takes effort and sometimes you wonder and worry about whether it’s worth it at all.”
The single tweet that launched a post:
The ARC stops here
“I do not for a second believe that ALA should be entirely closed off from those who aren’t librarians. I think it’s an incredible convention for those who love books and reading and knowledge and literacy and technology and the many other facets of librarianship interest that exist. It’s valuable for so many people, including teachers and bloggers and those who are simply readers.”
So to that end, I hope the story makes a heck of a lot more sense now. I have been overwhelmed with response, and I just can’t respond any further than suggesting that the responses already exist here. The belief this isn’t a legitimate concern has me mulling over even more bloggable topics, including belittling professional interests and speaking as an expert on a topic when you have no clue what the topic being discussed even is.
I have avoided reading posts and comments, but I want to do something in this space. I want to say my post was never meant to be an attack on the girls who made the video, and I’m repulsed by anyone who did that. It was meant as an example of the behavior that’s been going on for a long time. I am impressed by their response.
Like I said, people learn and grow. And within days? Those girls got it. I’m impressed as hell.
Will I say more on this? Maybe. But what I want clear is that this time, I was heard. In two days, there were over 10,000 hits on the blog. Thousands of Twitter replies. I hit a nerve that went well beyond my control — but you know, there it is.
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).