Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

While I haven’t been that active in visiting other blogs and commenting on various posts and reviews in recent months, I have noticed certain trends that have me rolling my eyes, raising my eyebrows and in general wondering about the state of book blogging. I want to take some time to address each one and hopefully start a discussion about them. As I have a lot to say, this is going to be spread out over several weeks. Think of it as a modern-day expose on the world of book blogging. This week I tackle the idea of readathons.

It used to be that there was only one readathon, Dewey’s, that occurred in the spring and again in the fall. This remains an event that draws hundreds of bloggers and readers alike, bringing together the community in a way that amazes most first-time participants. It has cheerleaders, an entire team of hosts, giveaways, mini-challenges and is so well-organized it can handle the hundreds, if not thousands, of participants each time. It remains one of the favorite annual blogging events for a reason. The support and genuine love for books that gets passed along through the event is something not to be missed.

These days however, there is literally a readathon a week. If there is some big event, there is a readathon. If there is not a big event, people create their own. Groundhog’s Day, winter, MLK, President’s Day, the Super Bowl – These are all weekends that had readathons. Don’t get me wrong. I love what the readathon signifies, that people are willing to devote a large chunk of a day to reading. Given all the press regarding the demise of print or even of reading, it is something to celebrate. Still, do we need a huge event each weekend? Does it require signing up and giving away prizes? More importantly, do all of these events dilute Dewey’s 24-hour readathon? Are people so tired of readathons that when it comes time for Dewey’s, they won’t want to participate? Does it even matter?

I can’t help but think it does matter. Events are only special when they happen occasionally, and the fact that one is occurring almost every weekend does dilute the importance of them. They become less an event than an excuse to read, and really, do we need an excuse to read? I know I don’t need one and usually try to eke out some hours out of each weekend to read no matter what is happening. I don’t need to create an event to do so, and if I were, reading would become more of a chore than a pastime. As a huge reader, I do not understand the need to declare to the world that you plan to devote a day/weekend/week to reading in honor of “X”, create a button for it and get people to participate with you.

Because these events typically involve some form of prize, to me the event becomes more about the prizes and less about community building, which remains the purpose of Dewey’s event. It is upsetting that so many newer bloggers are all about the prizes and bragging rights than networking and building up the blogging community. As a community, we can work wonders. If we appear to be in it for the prizes, then that dilutes our importance and influence in the publishing world.

Personally, I’d like to evolve away from the weekly readathons and get back to one or two unique, community-wide events that show our solidarity as a community and help build that network of bloggers and publishers that becomes important for any serious blogger. I’d like to get back to the focus on quality reviews and recommendations because, let’s face it, readathons do not make for quality reviews later. I’d like to get back to making certain events special rather than ordinary, and the best way to do so is to limit how many occurs within a given year.

What are your thoughts? Is there such a thing as too many readathons? Are they damaging to the blogging community? Let me know what you think!

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