Monday, August 8, 2011

Four Years of Blogging, and Maybe It's Time to Change It Up

This week marks the start of my fifth year as a blogger. Over the past four years a lot has changed about my blog, but a lot has stayed the same. While I've flirted with other areas of blogging (crafting and movies being the most recent) I'm still primarily a book blogger, and I still blog about more or less the same kinds of books I always have. And I blog about as often as I ever have.

But lately I've been feeling a little antsy and have been wondering if I ought to make some changes. Over the past two weeks I've been rigorously weeding my TBR piles and I culled lots of books- old books, new books, ARCs, paperbacks, hardcovers, things I bought, things I picked up at shows, things I asked for, things I received unsolicited, things I've read, things I haven't read, things I may yet read from the library or in another medium. If there is a category of books in my house, there is something from that category in the discard pile.

I started weeding because the piles were overrunning my den and because there's no way I can possibly read them all, and because over the past year or two I feel like my reading has lost its focus. Sometimes I hear a lot of hype, and I get caught up in it. I want the new "it" books, and I end up drowning in them.

Meanwhile, all those cool little books I pick up at used bookstores and from small presses get left in the dust. I started the Europa Challenge (along with my friend Liberty) in part to address this problem, since I collect Europa books kind of obsessively but haven't been reading them at the pace I'd like.  And reading them, I'm reminded of all the other idiosyncratic choices I've left aside for the past couple of years in favor of the hot new book-of-the-week or review obligation. And I'm tired of doing that. Which is not to say I'm abandoning current fiction or review requests but I need to steel myself to be choosier.

I've also been wondering if it's time to change up the look of my blog- get some new logo art and reformat it. What do you think? Keep my redhead woman up there, or get something different? You take a chance when you mix it up with your brand image; that's how a lot of people recognize my online persona these days, and I've worked hard to make it recognizable. Is it too late to change it?

And maybe alongside the visuals, maybe I should change the topical focus to emphasize the things I've been neglecting- the older books I ferret out, the personal choices I find on my own, the books no one's told me about but that I want to read because they just look so interesting. But ignoring new releases would be like closing the door on a lot of great conversations; blogging is like belonging to a big book club sometimes, and I don't want to lose that camaraderie.

All of this leads me to ask what is it that you expect of Boston Bibliophile? Hot new releases? Random stuff? What is that you're hoping to find when you come here? Do I deliver on that? What am I doing that you wish I wouldn't? What can I do better? The blog is by me but it wouldn't exist without you, so I want to know what you think.

Who knows how this will turn out. I've said many times that I'm tired of hype and books-of-the-moment but I can't help but feel the pull of the New Releases table, and I'll always want to know from my friends what they're excited about and what they're reading. I have more or less stopped buying hardcovers unless it's by a favorite author (handy, since I'm unemployed and my book budget is almost nil at the moment) but there always seems to be a reason to make an exception. Wherever I end up going- the new release table or the used shelves- I want to thank every single person who's come along with me in my blogging adventures, and I hope you'll stick around for another four years, or longer.