I've finally decided to throw in my two cents on this, inspired by discussions on the blogs of The Story Siren and Lindsey Leavitt, among others. Here's what I think about book blogs, i.e., blogs typically devoted to the discussion and review of books, often interspersed with features such as author interviews, guest posts, giveaways, and publishing news:
I think they are a fabulous idea.
What's especially exciting about the YA world is that many of the book blogs are written by teens, i.e., our primary audience. Not that I don't welcome adult readers of YA, too, because I absolutely do. I welcome every reader. I'll be honest: I love people talking about books. I want people talking about books online. (And on the train, and on TV, and on the beach, and in the school halls, and over the office water cooler, and at family dinners.) I'm never going to say we should have less discussion about books.
The fact that people are willing to spend hours of their free time reading books and blogging about them thrills me. Not only that, book bloggers often come to author signings. I've even known bloggers who have organized live book events and fundraisers!
I know that every blogger didn't love my book. Many did, some didn't. I don't even know the exact numbers or names because I don't keep a scorecard. I only read a small number of blog reviews, for two reasons: 1) I need to keep most of my mental energy for writing my next book; and 2) reviews aren't really for me; they're intended to help readers figure out whether a book is for them. I'm happy to join a discussion about my book when invited in, and if someone sends me a compliment, I respond with thanks, but otherwise I keep out of it. To a certain extent, the book belongs to readers now.
Authors do expect--and frankly, deserve--politeness and professionalism from the bloggers who ask for review or giveaway copies, interviews, and the like. Most writers only receive a small number of advance or final copies of our own books; the rest, we buy ourselves, and we can't say yes to every request. For my own part, I've been lucky that those who approach me have been polite and professional, and it's always my goal to be so in return.
There's often discussion about whether book blogs have an impact on sales, and if so, how much. I don't know the answer to this. Because blog content stays up forever, it's difficult to know when someone sees a blog that might influence a sale, and when the reader actually purchases it. Here's a true story from my own life. I read a brief synopsis/recommendation of Neal Shusterman's Unwind online. It sounded intriguing, so I wrote it down in the little book where I keep a running list of books I want to read. The list is long, and I didn't get around to Unwind immediately. In fact, one year later, I was in a bookstore looking for a book they didn't have. But I saw Unwind on the shelf and recognized its title, and bought it that day.
I'm glad people are blogging about books.