Jan 26, 2016

Let's talk about backlist reviews a bit, shall we?

Backlist reviews is the new talk of the town nowadays. A lot of 2016 goals lists have "read and review more backlist titles" as one of the resolutions. While bloggers are gradually getting a bit tired of the ARC craze that raised its head up this year, backlist reviews have become the next best alternative ( Got the Econ reference, anyone? :D)

First of all, before I start this discussion, let me explain what I mean by backlist titles.The term usually refers to older titles. Generally books that have been released for more than one year. Reviewing such titles in a book blog can have its pros and cons, and today I want to list them out especially with its current popularity.

While these reviews may seem like a great way to avoid getting swept up by ARCs, I feel like that there is - and should be - more to the action. Because in my opinion, reviewing backlist just because everyone seems to be doing it has no point. Backlist titles should be reviewed for the books, so let's take a look at the positives these reviews can bring to the book and to the blog which features them.

Promotion is promotion, no matter when it is done.

Whether I review a book two days after its release or five years after its debut, I am doing the same thing - promotion. If the whole point of writing a review is to promote and to give your readers a good recommendation, it will certainly be still effective years after the book's release. 

If you have international audience, they will most probably look for older book recs.

Trust me when I say this, as I am an INTL reader myself. Not all the countries of the world have access to new books immediately after its release. In fact it will take months, and sometimes a few years, for us to have access to relatively new releases in local bookstores. So when I want to look for recs, I will never look for newer titles and their reviews, rather I will go for older books and their reviews as I have a better chance of buying them than the new ones.

Sometimes older titles get forgotten

And a book blogger can certainly be the reason why it regained its popularity. For example Easy by Tammara Webber was one of the biggest books of 2012. When I joined Goodreads, it was everywhere. Now, do people even talk about the book??? Not to my knowledge, no. In such a situation, if I review this book, I might help spread the word. I might be a reason why it regains its popularity - at least in a small dose.

There are a lot of series abandoners out there, who wants completed series recs

We all know that continuing an ongoing series can be a hassle sometimes. So a lot of readers opt for completed series, so reviewing the first books of such a series can be a huge help for the readers in question!

Backlist reviews provide a variety.

There is a humongous amount of backlist titles out there. So when you review one, chances are very slim that someone else has reviewed the same book in recent times. One of the main reasons why people get tired of ARC reviews is because of their repetitive nature. When you see the same book reviewed over and over again in every blog you visit, it turns off readers, which is exactly why the diversity backlist reviews offer is welcomed by readers.

Plus, check out Josephine's post on backlist titles where she lists some more pros of the titles in question.

But these reviews won't be a bed of roses at the same time. Now don't get me wrong, I am not going to discourage anyone, but if you're ready to review more backlist, you've got to understand the cons these reviews can have in your blog as well.

You might not receive a lot of reader interaction

Backlist titles go two ways. One, you can review an extremely popular book which every one must have already read and your readers will have a lot to comment on these reviews which will lead to a lot of reader interaction. Or you could review a not so popular title, which to be honest, most people will ignore. Because let's face it, how likely is it that you click on the review of a title you haven't read or you don't recognize?

It might be hard to write a totally original review

When I review a title from 2012, I don't think I'll be able to provide a review which is really original and point out things that nobody has done before. Obviously my review is going to be a recycle of a lot of earlier reviews - even if I haven't read any and wrote the review on my own. YA books are no Shakepeare - we can't all provide unique and different interpretations - rather we are all going to talk about the same plot, writing and characters, and just how unique can your review be after the title has been reviewed continuously for 3 or 4 years?

It can be a hard practice to keep up.

Being on a backlist diet when you do get a lot of ARCs is certainly not going to be easy. And I think ARCs are responsibilities. So when you request and receive them, you can't always ignore your responsibilities.

In conclusion, all I want to say is this. Backlist reviews are great! They benefit the books, the authors, the publishers, the bloggers, the readers - all in many ways. But at the same time, in my opinion, they need to be done because you want to do so. Because you want to promote older books. Or maybe because by default the books you buy are backlist, and you have to review them anyway - which is what I do. And because you genuinely want to do it. Just don't review backlist titles because it's going to be - most probably - the trend of 2016.

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