Recently I’ve taken a step back from the online book community, mostly the YA space. This has been for a couple of reasons.
The first is that I think the YA community has really moved to Instagram and Tiktok and really values aesthetics much more than writing book reviews. I value my privacy and I’m never going to show my face online. I’m not really into creating content on either of those platforms.
I understand it’s a valid way to share book love and also a hobby in itself, but I prefer to spend my time reading rather than scrolling social media, and I use social media to find new books to read, which means I am looking for actual opinions on book, an actual review over a gorgeous photo someone spent 5 hours creating and then an unrelated question of the day. I understand also that social media is a valid way of selling books for authors, however I usually do not select to read a book based on its aesthetic. I learned my lesson back in 2011 with Fallen by Lauren Kate thank you very much.
Another reason I stepped back is that I realised the online community I experience in no way reflects real life.
I noticed this in two different areas:
my local library
I love my local library, and when a book explodes in the online community that I’m not that excited to read or otherwise don’t necessarily want to spend my own money on (because I have over 600 physical books alone that I own that I am yet to read, and storage has become an issue), I’ll usually stop by there to see if that book is available.
Imagine my shock when it’s not.
These books are SO HYPED in the online community that I can’t turn around without banging into an excited recommendation, seeing it on social media, or even seeing freaking TV advertisements.
And in marketing, a customer has to see something about 7 times before they’ll buy it. And that’s how I started reading the Plated Prisoner series.
When these books aren’t in my library, I am genuinely shocked. Books like the Plater Prisoner series and LightLark are in my library, but only one or two copies, and no one’s borrowing them (except me). I am so surprised that no one in my entire state wants to read these books that are so hyped and such a big deal in the online space.
In the real world, no one cares.
Stepping back from the online book community and spending more time in the real world has really made me realise how trendy the online book community is.
What is incredibly popular in my state is books written by local authors, especially if the authors are famous or won some kind of literature prize. Not whatever everyone else is reading.
I’m also surprised by what’s in demand at my local bookshops.
A few months ago I wandered into one of the only second hand bookshops in my city. It’s incredibly popular and stacked to the ceiling with books, but I could not find a single hyped YA title among those stacks. I found some older titles, but nothing that’s really been hyped from the past few years.
Of course, that could just mean that no one’s getting rid of their books, which I would totally understand. Either that or they’re selling them on Marketplace because second hand bookshops are too busy or won’t take them or whatever, there might be any reason. I just found it weird.
But even in my regular bookshops, it’s hard to find hyped titles because the demand simply isn’t there.
And yes, I do live in a state with an ageing population. My favourite bookshop has a wonderful YA section but it’s still selling John Green and even Alexandra Bracken and of course, Sarah J Maas is pretty popular – but since she’s got 3 series out and has been published since 2012, I don’t consider her along the same lines as Lightlark which is that author’s debut YA.
So those are my thoughts on the online books community vs the real world. I think it goes to show that what happens online doesn’t necessarily reflect what happens in the real world, and vice versa.