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Discussion: Cost of the Online Book Community

Hey all, Dani here.

I somewhat have my voice back, but overall I’m still trying to not talk, which has been so difficult. I’m actually carrying a notepad and pen with me so I can write what I need to say. I can honestly say that these last couple have days have truly made me appreciate how much simpler life is if you can communicate verbally.

Oh, and when I woke up this morning I had an earache as well. So I have a mild summer common cold, my voice is gone, an earache in the left ear, and this all happens just a few days before vacation/my birthday. It is not fun.

Anyway, today is a bookish discussion day. Over the past few days I’ve actually seen quite a few posts on social media talking about the financial cost of being a blogger. I’d argue this can expand over to places like Bookstagram as well. But I thought it was an interesting idea, so I figured I would toss my two cents into the conversation.

The online book community is great and I’m happy to be a part of it, but I think we all know that there are some divisions within our ranks. I’ve seen this cost conversation bring up price of books, price of advertising, price of blog site, etc, and there are people on all sorts of different sides for it.

So, I’m just going to go ahead and say this now. What I say in this post is simply my own opinion on the topic. It is perfectly fine if your opinion is different or if you don’t interpret things the same way as I do or whatever. I’ve never had an issue with this, but I’m still just going to ask that we keep this discussion as polite as possible.

I think the biggest cost in being part of this online community is the time we spend with it. There’s that phrase “Time is Money” for a reason. It takes us time to plan/write our posts. It takes us time to set-up and take photos for our blog posts and/or our Instagram posts. It takes time to read other blogs and comment on them. It takes time to research books and release dates and book tags and just everything else behind the scenes. I didn’t comb through the conversations I saw on Twitter covering this cost topic, but what I happened to see did not mention this cost at all.

Then there are those who talk about the cost of buying books. They mention that books are not cheap and how the online book community–whether intentional or not–pressures others into buying all the books so they can be displayed on bookshelves or wherever. Of course those against this point make the argument that you don’t have to buy all the books; you can use your library, which pretty much eliminates the cost concern for this portion.

Okay, so here’s where I’m going to have my own personal weird opinion on the topic. I don’t actually include the cost of my book buying habit in my cost of book blogging rundown. I would still be buying this many books even if I wasn’t active in the online book community. And yes, I do realize that some months I have a pretty huge book haul, while others I manage to keep it fairly under control. I’m pretty sure I probably spend at minimum $100-200 on books each month. I realize that to a lot of people that is a LOT of money. But I try not to eat out a lot, I don’t have a social life where I go to bars and drink or anything, and I don’t spend a bunch of money on clothes (and I spend zero on makeup), so my money is pretty much spent on bills, groceries, and then books/other geek things.

Yes, I do probably need to cut back on my book buying a little. I also probably need to diversify my blog a little more. In each review post I include links on where to buy each book I review, but I don’t even mention that you could always visit your local library. I should probably do that so I’m not passively part of the culture of the online book community that seems to ignore or inadvertently shaming library users. I’m a librarian by schooling, so of course I love it when people frequent their local libraries.

Another potential big cost area for the online book community is photo/video. Phones nowadays take pretty good photos, and their video/audio isn’t awful, so again, you can participate in the book community even if you don’t have a fancy camera. This is another area where I don’t really factor in the cost to my overall budget. I’ve enjoyed taking photos for years and years; I took a digital photography class in college. So yes, I own three different digital cameras, including one I specifically bought for its video ability. But I could be just as happy with using my cell phone and/or finding usable photos online (and giving proper credit to the owner of the photo).

Of course, if you’re into Bookstagram, or you just like your blog photos to have a nice aesthetic, then you might also need to buy yourself some props and accessories and other bits and bobs to make the photos visually pleasing. I have random scrapbook designed pages, as well as having a large selection of fake flowers. I might go out and spend $5-10 on some props, and then it will be six months or so before I do it again. So long as you don’t choose items that will break down, fall apart, or go bad, investing in props is only an upfront expense instead of a recurring subscription or something.

Oh, and let’s not forget photo editing software. You can use the free stuff on your phone or on Instagram, or download GIMP for free, or you can buy some other photo editing program like Adobe Photoshop. Depending on what you choose, this actually could end up being pretty darn pricey.

So then there’s the cost of the blog site. I am still using the free plan on WordPress, and it is working just fine for me right now, but here in the next couple of years I’m thinking it will be time to upgrade. I do however pay for my blog’s domain name. I think I maybe pay like $20-25 a year, and it isn’t divided into payments or anything. It’s all done in like January. But that’s pretty much the cost of one hardcover book, and it gets me the rights to use instead of needing to use

Pretty much for me, the cost of being part of this online community is worth it. The most expensive element is my time. So often I’ll want to be lazy and just do nothing but binge TV or movies, and instead I sit myself down at a computer and write up posts or respond to comments or read other blog posts. Or I focus on my never-shrinking pile of books I want to read.

I’m glad I’m part of this community. I have met some wonderful people because of running this blog, and I have also been introduced to some fantastic books, which is always nice.

Thank you all so much for joining me in my little corner of the online book community. I appreciate you all. Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic (or suggest other topics for discussion) in the comments. I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

12 thoughts on “Discussion: Cost of the Online Book Community”

  1. I completely agree with your point about time being money. I definitely do not blog for the money but because i enjoy it and the time i put onto it reflects that. Many people outwith the community think because its online work that its not hard, they are sorely mistaken.
    I also completely agree about the cost aspect of buying the books. I definitely spend too much money on books, but book blog or not i would still be spending that money. Now i just have an excuse so i dont feel so bad about it 😂😂
    Great post! Great points! I always love these kinds of discussions about our community ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I spend 4-8 hours a week writing posts, probably 2-4 reading and commenting on other posts, and my reading time varies each week. Hour wise my blog is at least the equivalent of a part-time job, if not more than that.

      But I love it. I love having this community of people I can share my bookish thoughts with, because I wasn’t getting that in my offline community.

      Thank you! I think discussions about are community are important, so long as we approach them with open minds and hearts. We all are here because we love books. That’s the most important thing. Everything else is kind of open to interpretation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in the same boat as you, where I was already spending quite a bit per month on books before I started blogging, so I can’t really consider that to be a cost of the blog. I have maybe picked up one or two titles that I wouldn’t have otherwise bought, but not because I felt any pressure to buy them. It’s just that I read someone else’s review and it piqued my interest 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yeah, thanks to other book bloggers I am definitely more in the know when it comes to books to anticipate or to just add to my TBR in general. I have found some pretty great books based on the recommendations of others.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m the same as you. Every time I would see the discussion come up no one seemed to mention their time. It takes me several hours to put even a basic post together because I’m slow and reviews are hard, so that is where my main cost lies. Plus I was a book hoarder before I started the blog, so I can’t blame it for how much I spend on books lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks time is the big cost, and that we’re all basically book hoarders. lol. I mean, now I just buy a lot of books and try to justify it as a good thing for my blog, though really it’s because I have no shelf control and I have a book buying addiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my god yes!!! No shelf control whatsoever. I even use my daughter as an excuse. I went second hand book shopping for her today. She needed the final book in a series. I got her that and 5 other books because I can’t stop!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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