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Random Thoughts: To book vlog or not to book vlog? This is another question

There are many book blogs out there with a weekly (or more) video blog component. Some bloggers also publish their vlogs on YouTube. Currently I’m still debating whether or not to add this component to my freshman blog.

PROS

There are a number of benefits to reviewing books in video format versus just having the written reviews. One is that it gives blog followers a more personal connection to you and gives viewers an idea of your personality far more than the written word ever could. Having both video and written posts can really give followers and fans a much more complete picture of who you are.

Another benefit is that it’s much easier in some respects to discuss a book or an idea in a conversational manner rather than having to come up with a written viewpoint. Although I’m sure there are vloggers out there who speak quite formally and wax poetic, it’s less common to do so. Talking about a book – about likes and dislikes – allows for an informality that doesn’t work nearly as well in written format. Saying that “it was awesome” and that “I freakin’ loved it” works. Seeing these terms typed out on the screen in a post when discussing an author’s work doesn’t come across nearly as effectively.

Being able to see and judge whether the reviewer really means what they are saying or if their enthusiasm is faked is another plus to a video posting. Anyone can type that they loved or hated something, but it is much harder to lie on camera unless you are a very good actor/actress. It is also another way to prove that you are in fact reviewing the works. It is easy to steal someone’s content from their blog and post it as your own as there are so many blogs out there. (Granted if your site does become popular you will most likely get caught if you do something so heinous.)

Obviously it can offer variety to a blog. Having different forms of communication, be they written posts, vlogs or podcasts gives viewers another reason to visit your site versus one of the thousands of others out there in the blogosphere.

Finally, whether readers may realize it or not, posting reviews or other items on a blog is not always quick or simple. Some posts require writing and re-writing and even still could have used an editor. (Perhaps like this post.) Further, just adding in the codes, images and other elements to make each post visually appealing takes time and effort. There is also the fact that in order to review a book it must be read. This is typically why many blogs offer other content than simply reviews – such as the In My Mailbox or the Waiting on Wednesday memes, author interviews, author spotlights, contests, giveaways or posts that just discuss lovely covers. I would love to meet the blogger that can read a book and post a review each day, 365 days a year! A video post can be a quick and fairly painless way to get content onto your site.

CONS

There are a number of drawbacks to the video post, too. One such drawback is if you are a terrible speaker/verbal communicator. While there are some wonderful video reviewers, not everyone is so gifted. And while it can be nice to see and hear someone discuss a particular subject or book, not everyone can be entertaining, engaging or pleasant to watch. The nervous vlogger is someone who probably shouldn’t be opting for this format.

Another potential negative to the video post is “likability.” You may be a terrific blogger, with a definite viewpoint and fantastic writing style, but you don’t come across well on camera. You can drop in popularity if someone forms their opinion based on how you speak, the color of your hair, or lack thereof, or if you just come off as some kind of a creeper. And once these videos are out there, you lose control of them. You could very well become the next “what not to do” example. (This could actually be counted as a benefit if you are a terrible writer but great on video.)

A further negative is anonymity. While blogging does require you to have some level of sociability and interaction with the universe, video blogging can reveal a lot more about you than you may want a few years down the line. Once these videos are posted, they could be out there for years to come. If you are a young blogger, or even someone not so young, there could be the very real chance that what you’ve talked about on camera could cost you your reputation and employment, especially if you’ve posted them under your true identity.

Finally, vlogging has the potential for more of an emotional component. If you’ve read a book that you’ve disliked in some way, you have a greater tendency to go on a rant about it, and possibly about the author. Writing a less than positive review takes time and will often cause you to rethink just what you might say. Yes, there are reviewers who love to slam, but in written form it is generally less abrasive, or at least you can see if the slammer is completely illiterate. On a vlog, there is a greater chance that as you talk about something your emotion will carry you away to levels your written review might not go. The harm in this is that there is a chance that you might fall in love with the author’s work down the road and that video where you’ve raged on and on may just come back to bite you in the a**. This too can damage your reputation as a reviewer if you look like some crazy ranting nutter.

THE DECISION?

So, weighing both options I’m still undecided on what I should do. I don’t think I’m a terrible communicator. (But I could very well be way too full of myself.) And this blog, while it is my heart and soul, is not my means of employment and so I do have my workplace reputation to think of. It also exposes me to the universe when I never thought I’d even have an online presence. I wanted to be a ghost.

Yes, I’m a social media newbie. I started hyperventilating as I signed on for a Twitter account. I’m sure my Tweets are still fairly lame. The two or three people that know me almost passed out when they found out I’d ventured onto Facebook. And it took me a couple of weeks before I actually added my name as if the universe would suddenly i.d. me. Paranoid much? (Just a bit.) Oh, and that’s another thing. Most of the people in my “real” life don’t even know about this reviewing, blogging, book passion of mine. If I were to start posting videos I think my secret would be out.

But my biggest hesitation for posting a vlog is this: I DON’T HAVE A BOOKCASE. I think those of you who watch these vlogs know what I mean, but for those who don’t I’ll explain.

Almost every video reviewer sits at their computer with a large bookcase behind them packed with their lovely books. I currently do not own a bookcase. (As a reviewer I do feel slightly ashamed about this fact, as a wishful minimalist I do not.)

Aside from the few ARC’s I’ve received, I only own five physical books. I have approximately 500 eBooks on my Kindle, about 2/3 of which are read. I used to own in excess of 600 books, which crowded my home and shelves, but these I donated over time to libraries or gave away to friends and when I’d get a new book I would read it and pass it along. I always felt that a book collecting dust on a shelf wasn’t serving its purpose and so I thought by passing it on I would allow the book to fulfill its destiny. But I did feel sad having to give them away as I love my books and when I got my very first eReader in 2008 I was a happy camper. It was a good compromise. Of course this leaves me without the seemingly mandatory bookcase. And so I wonder whether any viewer of my potential future vlog would think less of me for not having those shelves of books…

Perhaps I should start with baby steps – the podcast. Those listening to a podcast could simply imagine that I was sitting in my library surrounded by my collection of thousands of tomes. (I don’t tend to like the vlog reviews with just the image of the book on screen or a still shot of the reviewer while they speak off camera, so wouldn’t do that myself.)

Hmm…This might just be the way to go. Happy to hear your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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