Book Blogs + Book Reviews=Book Sales?

As my book blog is poised to turn 6 months old, I’ve been reflecting on its purpose and potential.  People are visiting, reading, and commenting on my posts, but does that translate to book sales?  Do book blogs generate enough buzz to actually sell books? 

The book blogging community is such a supportive one, but are we reaching the masses?  Recently, I started posting my reviews on Amazon to reach a wider audience.  But is this enough?  Are their other avenues that I’m missing?

I read about 60 book blogs during the week.  In six months, I’ve read 13 books that were either reviewed or suggested by other bloggers (five of which were for my Summer Reading Challenge).   In total, I’ve been motivated to read eight books purely on bloggers’ reviews.  But my reading of these books didn’t generate new revenue for the authors because I  borrowed them from my local library.

I would love to know if book blogs, reviews, and tours have a quantifiable impact on book sales.  Do authors notice a spike in sales and interest if they market their books through blogs?  Do you think your blog (and book blogs in general) help sell books?  Inquiring minds want to know!

29 Comments

  • At 2009.06.25 10:26, yearzerowriters said:

    Hi Natalica

    I don’t have any stats, but i’d say that blogs don’t help much. I mean, the internet’s just there and all you have to do is click a button. There’s a huge difference between that and actually getting off your ass and buying something, even if you’re only getting off your ass to go on amazon…even that’s a chore.

    If you have a website then does that mean that much either? I don’t know…

    I think the best way is to form a collective of writers who write similar themes or share ideals, and then hit what you think is your market. I guess it helps if your collective is international…like our one.

    Do you write books? Do you review alot of self-published stuff?

    Oli

    • At 2009.06.25 10:51, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

      I’ve wanted to find this out as well. I’ve recently started offering affiliate marketing images and links on my reviews to see if they generate book sales. But then again, this is not foolproof since people may want to go to their local bookstore and buy books, etc. I really would love to see what you find out about this topic.

      • At 2009.06.25 11:46, Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said:

        Book bloggers have encouraged me to buy books which I would never have thought to buy, but I’m not sure how many non-bloggers are influenced by us. I’d love to know some figures!

        We must be doing something useful though, otherwise the publishers wouldn’t be sending us ARCs.

        • At 2009.06.25 11:59, Becky Workman said:

          What a great question! I know that I’ve read several books that I wouldn’t have otherwise read because of the blogging community, but like you, I don’t typically buy them. I trade with friends, or via PBS. I have purchased a few for my Kindle though!

          • At 2009.06.25 13:41, bermudaonion said:

            I have bought quite a few books based on blogger and Twitter buzz, but I don’t know if I’m the norm or not.

            • At 2009.06.25 13:42, avisannschild said:

              I’ve definitely bought books because I’ve seen them on blogs, but again I’m also a blogger. I’m not sure how much impact we have on non-bloggers.

              Amy at My Friend Amy is currently trying to get folks to buy copies of Beth Kephart’s latest book (she’s aiming for 200 copies), so I’m looking forward to seeing how that experiment goes. (Again, though, most of the purchasers may be other bloggers. But does that matter?)

              • At 2009.06.25 13:53, vivienne said:

                No – I don’t think they really help sales, but I do think they are keeping the library service going. I feel that the blogs are there purely to enlighten the readers with wonderful books they might eventually get around to reading.

                • At 2009.06.25 14:29, Hayden Tompkins said:

                  I find that one review is probably not enough to make someone buy a book, but if the book is new and there are lots of great reviews than the effect is cumulative and people will buy.

                  • At 2009.06.25 14:59, Florinda said:

                    This is a big discussion topic these days. I know that book blogs have prompted me to buy a ridiculous number of books during the past couple of years, but I’m not a library-goer (I know, the shame!).

                    I think most of us would agree that book blogs influence what we want to read (within the book-blog community, anyway – like Jackie says, it’s uncertain how much we sway a broader audience). I tend to think that whether or not that drives actual book sales probably depends on whether or not you prefer to own your books.

                    • At 2009.06.25 15:04, Holley said:

                      I wholeheartedly endorse checking books out from the library (job security for me!) but I also freely tell patrons that I always buy a copy of a book if I really enjoyed it. I own copies of all of Geraldine Brook’s novels, most of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (a not-small shelf in itself), the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the Twilight books, it goes on and on. One china cabinet is full of my books, my mantel is full, and I cleaned one thrift store out of book shelves. I love to read and I also love to own and I encourage that in others though I have no figures on my success rate!

                      • At 2009.06.25 17:31, Beth F said:

                        Like others, book blogging and twitter have increased *my* book buying. I hope we are having some effect.

                        • At 2009.06.25 17:45, Amy Reads Good Books said:

                          Great conversation! I think it may increase sales among book bloggers as well. I just started blogging and have bought one or two books based on reviews. However, I’m usually a library-goer as well. Does it really matter if we reach “non-bloggers”? One of the things I love about blogging is that it’s a participatory sport! People who love reading blogs usally hop in and start one sooner or later!

                          • At 2009.06.26 01:58, Susan @ Reading Upside Down said:

                            Despite your resistance to Twitter, you have channelled the topic of a recent discussion there. Kat Meyer at Follow the Reader recently hosted a one hour discussion on whether Twitter and blogs increase book sales.

                            I have been influenced in my reading because of book bloggers. While I have generally picked up books I am interested in from the local library, I have also recommended these titles to other reading friends who do not have or read book blogs. So I guess, if these friends buy the books, their purchases were initially instigated by a book blog.

                            Interesting questions and discussion.

                            • At 2009.06.26 13:10, Rebecca said:

                              This is a great question. I am interested to know, as well. I have no idea how you go about doing that, though. I have bought very few books since beginning blogging in January, but I also had quite a few already, discovered Book Mooch, and have been sent ARCs and gotten books through giveaways on other blogs. But the reviews of my fellow book bloggers absolutely influence what I want to read next. There are several books I would never give a second glance to that I picked up because of reviews on these blogs. But, like avisannschild, I wonder how much impact we have on non-bloggers.

                              • At 2009.06.26 19:05, Jenners said:

                                Interesting question!!! I know that some people have bought books based on reviews on my blog because they told me or I got “credit” for it via Amazon Associates. And I “sold” two Kindles based on my review. So I think it does translate to some degree but it would be hard to quantify unless there were surveys I guess.

                                • At 2009.06.26 19:22, Jenners said:

                                  I forgot to mention, I post my reviews at the following places:

                                  Amazon
                                  Goodreads
                                  LibraryThing
                                  Shelfari
                                  Paperback Swap

                                  And I have been thanked by authors for the “Amazon” reviews … I guess they are “worth their weight” in sales!

                                  • At 2009.06.27 20:02, Kim said:

                                    Great question! Personally I have bought 4 new books at full retail price and 27 secondhand books that I would not have bought if I had not started book blogging in April this year. I have been introduced to 11 new authors I would not have thought of looking out for and have picked up at least one each of their books during that time too.
                                    Book bloggers are just book lovers who now have the opportunity to communicate with each other via the internet, which was not possible in the past. Blogs offer a vehicle for publishers to reach and influence these book lovers and some of them still buy books.
                                    From the answers you have received above and in my own case, it seems clear that book reviews on blogs do have the ability to sway readers of books, but, how much this translates into new book sales is difficult to evaluate. Perhaps there should be two questions here:
                                    “How many new books have you bought in the last year, as a direct result of reading a book review on a blog that you would not have otherwise bought?” My answer is 4!
                                    “How many new authors have you been introduced to and will possibly purchase their books in the future as a result of blogging?” My answer is 11!
                                    What about you?

                                    • […] ~ Natalie at Book, Line, and Sinker asks if Book Blogs+Book Reviews=Book Sales? […]

                                      • At 2009.06.28 09:19, beth kephart said:

                                        This is an extraordinary conversation, and one that I’m happy to have stumbled upon this morning.

                                        As authors we do, of course, want to sell books. It isn’t so much about finances, at least for me. It’s about hoping that publishing houses and booksellers will find sufficient cause to believe in an author—to believe that the author has enough of a following to support a next book. Sales are the driving factor here. Awards and praise, sadly, not nearly as much.

                                        I happen to be the incredibly blessed subject of Amy’s (and Lenore’s) Book Drive. This came as a surprise to me; this was a gift to me. I don’t know what will happen with sales. I can say—absolutely—that I have been deeply touched by the largesse of Amy’s heart, of Lenore’s, of all the bloggers out there who have participated in the drive in myriad ways.

                                        We are so often alone as authors, especially when we publish literary books that don’t take us out on tour. The blogging community gives us footing and foundation. It gives us hope. It buoys us as we write our next books—hoping, hoping that a publishing house will again take the chance.

                                        • […] Book Blogs + Blog Reviews = Book Sales?, at Book, Line and Sinker […]

                                          • At 2009.06.28 17:45, Natasha @ Maw Books said:

                                            Absolutely yes, they do. Through my Amazon affiliate, I see sales of book titles that I read and review. Sometimes these books have been published a long time but yet I see direct sales.

                                            • At 2009.06.28 17:58, Janet said:

                                              Most of the books I’ve bought recently were either recommended on blogs or written by people I’ve met online.

                                              • At 2009.06.28 18:05, sdechantal said:

                                                I believe they do as well. When the book bloggers are out there talking about books we get to read about a book we may never have heard of – or we see a cover.
                                                For me if I see a book that sounds good that image will stick with me and I do but books because of great reviews on blogs.

                                                • At 2009.06.29 07:22, Care said:

                                                  In pre-book blogging days, I only bought a few books per year, now I have a monthly budget line for books! I blame ALL of it on book blog buzz. I, however, do not expect my blog to be such an influencer – just barely adding to the noise, I’m guessing.

                                                  • […] the purpose and effectiveness of book blogs, particularly when related to book sales. Natalie at Book, Line and Sinker brought this up as she contemplated the 6-month anniversary of her blog and Charlotte Abbott posted […]

                                                    • At 2009.07.01 17:11, Lisa Marie Wilkinson said:

                                                      I believe they have an impact. I am published by a small press and a fellow author had her novel picked up by an influential blogger who then challenged all her blogger friends to read and review the book. A small press author who has the enthusiastic support of the blogger community will definitely notice an impact to their sales numbers.

                                                      • At 2009.07.05 16:35, zowl said:

                                                        It is interesting, there are twenty five comments here. Three of the comments are auto-blogs and the rest are from authors.

                                                        I am about to launch something for a new book that I have recently finished. I was looking for some examples of on line book marketing for my novel, otherwise I would have never found you.

                                                        Most of what is out there are static web sites, which is old school internet and doesn’t really work for anything. Then I see some blogs and some squeeze pages.

                                                        It is just my opinion that you are doing something wrong, if only authors are viewing your blog or making comments. I have four other websites and three of them are sites where I am trying to make money. One site is just a diary where I make a post once in awhile; it has low traffic and I don’t care because it’s fun.

                                                        To try and keep up with a blog and write simultaneously is insane. People come to a blog for daily fresh content, they don’t care where that content comes from. That is why you have auto-blogs pinging your site, they are stealing your content. It’s okay you get some traffic which will help you with your SEO. (search engine optimization)

                                                        If you expect to sell anything on line the name of the game is traffic. You could be writing the best stuff in the world but if nobody is reading it– you lose.

                                                        That being said I was counting the books I bought over the last year and thinking how and why I bought them. I counted 21 books that I have purchased over the last year. I don’t go to the library because I don’t like censorship. I buy a book for a variety of reasons: I am in an airport and I need something for the plane, I hear something on PBS that perks my interest, I ask a bookseller (a good bookseller for a recommendation), a news story, a personal recommendation, and sometimes I need technical information.

                                                        I have never bought a book from a blog, New York Times Best Seller’s I stay away from or anything that is pumped by a professional magazine. Any professional magazine is biased toward the advertisers. This is the beauty of the internet it creates the buzz of marketing. The new Mass 2.0 marketing is concerned with word of mouth from a trusted source. If I follow you on Twitter and I know what kind of posts you produce I am more apt to look at a recommendation that you make. If you are posting spam all the time I will still leave you on because I will try and buzz you. I will use forums and any other way to get my message out. But if you are having fun just blogging to people like you– I understand I have one of those blogs but if you want to sell a book it seems to me you have to be aggressively exploiting everything adwords anything that you can. People make $3000 a month doing nothing but setting up an auto-blog and advertising.

                                                        Just another observation, thanks for the posting it got me energized and helps me see what I want to do more clearly.

                                                        • At 2009.07.06 08:11, Lenore said:

                                                          Hey, every little bit helps right? I’m amazed all the time by people who write me e-mails and say thanks for recommending a book (and I didn’t even know they read my blog) or tell me they bought a book because I said I liked it. Word of mouth is very powerful, and bloggers are great connecters – getting the word out there to the public but also to our friends and family.

                                                          • At 2011.01.08 17:31, Emma said:

                                                            I think that a book blog can be influential, as long as the right people are reading them. You mentioned borrowing the books recommended to you from the library: would you do that same thing if someone you know recommended a book to you in person? Or perhaps you would borrow the book directly from them…The more someone reads a blog, the more rapport they will feel with the poster, and will gain their trust with their opinions, which in turn will effect how they choose to react to each new review.

                                                            I find, that with my Nook, that I will search for specific books recommended to me, and sometimes there are great deals, in which case I will purchase it there. I regularly shop at a thrift store here in town for used books, and a positive review can push me to purchase a book I may have overlooked otherwise.

                                                            But like I said, it would all depend on the person reading them. If someone is taking the time to read over a review, chances are they’re looking for something to read. And not just anything. Something they will feel accomplished for reading, something that will perhaps lift their spirits, or make them think, or something that can be read in a few short days. Where better to find out from, than someone who already read it? Book blogs are excellent resources for modern readers, especially with how much literature there is out there nowadays to choose from. I think absolutely blogs can have an influence with what people decide to read. As far as book sales, if they are going to buy a book, they will buy it, but if not, they will find a way to read it anyway, just like it always has been.
                                                            Emma´s last blog post ..Ender’s Game- Orson Scott Card

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