Results from the Survey on BOOK REVIEWS!

Something that I feel has been coming up a lot lately is discussion about reviews. We as book bloggers initially put a lot of focus on reviews for our blogs, but I think as our reading, writing, and blogging habits develop, our opinions on reviews tend to change. Obviously there is no right or wrong way to blog — including how to write a review, how long a review is, or if you even DO include reviews in your blog — but I wanted to get inside the heads of the masses and see what the general consensus is on reading and writing reviews. I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of people questioning how they write reviews, ways to shake things up, and guilt for not reading other people’s reviews. What’s the best way to find out? Ask!

The results were incredibly interesting! I had a serious number of people respond (thank you for taking part if you did!) and I got to see all of your responses on how reviews affect your blogging habits, both in writing them and reading reviews from other people. I know you’re curious, so without further ado… The results!

Book Blogger Reviews Survey Infographic

SURVEY REACTIONS

I asked if there was annoying you didn’t like about SHORTER REVIEWS. You replied:

  • I feel like the reviewer isn’t sharing enough about the book to help me (35%)
  • I feel like short reviews show a lack of connection to a book (10%)
  • They don’t help me decide whether a book is worth buying (21%)
  • Write-in options: “They say what they like or don’t like but don’t elaborate why.” // “It really depends.”

I asked if there was annoying you didn’t like about LONGER REVIEWS. You replied:

  • I have limited time to read and/or comment so I tend to skim (45%)
  • I feel like longer reviews tend to get overly ranty/fangirly (18%)
  • I feel like longer reviews tend to get too cluttered and start to lose focus (28%)
  • Write-in options: “Chunky paragraphs are hard to read on screen.” // “Long reviews need humor.” // “I’ve found that longer reviews tend to contain spoilers.”

Thoughts on rating systems: 

  • Most people review star systems or number scales (also including a “grading” scale). At 70%, it was the popular vote. It’s the quick and easy way to tell how a reviewer felt about a book. Only 13% chose a system that uses words/a written out rating, frequently because their star ratings don’t match up with the Goodreads star ratings. 7% said that ratings systems aren’t helpful at all. A few added extra comments to say that they liked a star/number system WITH addition information as to why they rated it that way.
  • Extra thoughts! One reviewer (who approved to be quoted anonymously) said: “I rarely use a rating system. [… ] Rating systems are very subjective. Some bloggers are very specific about their rating systems and list it clearly on their blogs, but sometimes I have to dig around to actually find it. Ultimately, I read reviews of bloggers who are consistent, respectful. I have learned to trust their opinions and follow their blogs. Their reviews weigh much more than their ratings.
    I also believe that a star system can prevent excellent reviews from being read by authors and other reviewers. For example: I have been quoted and RT by authors for reviews that were thoughtfully written, but if I had put stars on the review, they never would have read it.”

“Extras” In Reviews: 

  • The most popular options for “extra”s in book reviews? An image of the cover, a book synopsis, a rating, and links to Goodreads. After that, a few more people selected that they like to see a quotes section, gifs, and specific sections like a character breakdown or specific world building section followed.
  • GIFS were a hot topic in this survey! Despite the fact that so many people selected that they like to see gifs in reviews, the people who don’t like them were very outspoken!
  • Quote it! “GIFS! I feel they’re a bit overused in place of actual feelings. A good gif, well placed, I’m all for ;)” // “GIFS. They make me crazy. Please use words in your review!” // “I find gifs to be really obnoxious when used too much. I can’t explain how annoying it is to go through Goodreads and see gif after gif. I find it to be juvenile and distracting.” // “A limit to how many gifs are used per a review. Sometimes it feels reviewers use gifs when they don’t really have anything to say about the book. I don’t mind seeing one to two gifs per a review, but when the post is mainly images and not nearly enough writing, I tend to skip checking it out.” // “I only like reviews that include gifs if they are on Tumblr. Gifs are for Tumblr, people. You want to use gifs, get on Tumblr.”

I asked how many books you write reviews for and you said: 

  • I review every book I read, including DNFs (15%)
  • Every book except for books I marked as DNF (11%)
  • Almost all of them (36%)
  • I review almost all of them but I don’t write negative reviews (8%)
  • About half (3%)
  • I pick and choose (23%)
  • I rarely write reviews (0%)
  • Other: Providing they were not books I had to read for school // I review everything on Goodreads but only some on my blog

Do you take notes while reading? 

  • YES : Handwritten notes (23%) // Keep notes in draft as I’m reading (2%) // I use tabs (18%) // Update Goodreads (15%)
  • NO : Takes me out of the book & ruins my experience (23%) // I have no interest in taking notes (17%)

So how important are reviews to your own blogs?: 

  • Most people said VERY important. Reviews are THE main focus.  (34%)
  • Shortly after that the response was that they’re pretty important and should be prominent, but doesn’t have to be THE focus of the blog.  (31%)
  • Shortly after that, responses leaned toward just kind of. This group felt like reviews make up their blogs, but they have other features that round out their book blog besides just reviews. (28%)
  • Only a couple people replied that reviews weren’t very important to their blogs. (3%)

SOUND BITES FROM THE BLOGGERS

“I generally write long reviews but recently I have decided to shorten my reviews to just a few paragraphs with one focusing on “summing up” my experience. I find that though I like writing longer, analytical reviews, I do not like reading them and just want to see the overall feelings someone had upon finishing the novel.” — Anonymous

“Writing reviews is often the hardest part of my blogging experience. I have not once been able to write a review in less than a half an hour, so I need time that I don’t always have. And I often find that I would rather keep reading than write the kind of review that I want to post (I write longer reviews), so I struggle to keep on top of them. Also, I forget things if I wait too long, so I struggle sometimes to piece things together. But I do think that reviews are important to blogging, especially when I’m reading a book I got from a publisher before it’s release. I do feel more of an obligation to post something in those cases even though I recognize that I will never be able to do it for all of them.”  — Anonymous 

“I think reviews help log our reading experiences. I like writing reviews to track my own enjoyment of books. My reviews are more for me. I read most reviews on goodreads to either validate my feelings of how I’m feeling about a book or help me decide when to read a book. I don’t typically allow reviews to decide which books end up on my tbr. I don’t read many reviews on blogs because it would take me forever to read them all and I won’t remember the review. I find it better to read reviews when I’m looking for thoughts on a specific book.”  — Michelle from Playing Jokers

“There’s been a lot of debate about the validity of negative reviews. I ALWAYS read both the positive and negative reviews, and often the negative reviews make me want to read the book! If someone says, “this was depressing,” or “these characters weren’t nice people” I might run right out to read the book because I like dark, complex characters.” — S.W. Hubbard

“I feel like the book blogging world is becoming an increasingly competitive arena. There’s a constant comparing of number: how many posts, comments, followers, ARCs, mailing lists, infographics, memes. Even though I’ve been at this for a while, my blog is tiny and will probably remain that way. I started reviewing the books I read because it was supposed to be fun and a way to share my thoughts with others. In the last few months, I do post less than I used to because I’ve accepted that my schedule doesn’t allow me to read as quickly. Also, since I don’t write negative reviews, that means I don’t review every book I read. The internet is so supersaturated with book blogs (especially those focused on YA), and while I’m glad to be a part of this community, I also recognize that not everyone can be the most popular so I’ve just got to stick with doing what works for me. :)”   — Monica from The Fuma Files

“I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to review. Everyone has their own style and it’s that diversity that makes the book blogging community so worthwhile.” — Nicole from The Quiet Concert

“I think reviews are something that initially made the book blogging community what it is, but it’s also pretty difficult to write reviews that are entertaining and keep your readers focus. If a blog is simply one review after another and there are no other sorts of posts, I’m 99% sure won’t follow it because I feel like something’s holding me back from connecting with the blogger and because that would just make for an incredibly boring blog.” — Ashley from Ok, Let’s Read

“In general, I think we’re under the impression that writing book reviews need to be professional and critical. That it’s supposed to be objective. People lately have felt the need to set themselves apart by saying they’re doing “book talk” and not reviews. But I feel like, for me, these are the same thing.
Every review that I write is personal. I always mention how books made me feel or react or the like. While I don’t know if that’s always helpful for other readers, I feel like, for me, that’s usually what I try to find in other people’s reviews too. That way I know if there’s a chance I’ll be able to connect or like a book as much as they did!
I do think it’s interesting that reviews are getting so much flack. Personally, whether or not my reviews are read by other people, I find joy in sharing my thoughts — even if it’s just for me! Sure, I post it so that other people can see it an hopefully benefit, but I also don’t mind if it doesn’t get any attention at all. I’m very grateful for my readers and friends, but they’re not the main reason I write my reviews. I write them for ME.” — Anonymous

“I blog for myself, and I can’t say that I am very strategic about attempting to reach readers.
I feel like people say that their reviews get less traffic/comments, but I feel like if you write quality reviews, and make an effort to interact with followers, they can lead to good discussion. I blog for discussion, not for page views.
If I look at my stats for the past 30 days, reviews aren’t my most viewed posts, but I think that’s because my library program posts, booklists/readers’ advisory graphics, etc, get way more traffic overall.
But still, several got plenty of traffic and comments. When I look at “all time” I was surprised how many reviews did well over a long period. Reviews of adult books and nonfiction do really well, I think because there are less adult/nonfiction book review blogs out there. Reviews of books that I think no one will be interested in sometimes get a lot of search traffic because there just aren’t that many reviews of them out there.” — Molly from Wrapped Up In Books

“If bloggers feel their reviews are not getting great hits, I think it goes a little deeper than people don’t want to read reviews. Have you been posting infrequently? Are you reviews too long? Are you reviewing the same books as every other blogger in the universe? (Diversity is so important!) Is your SEO not working for you? I think instead of making a broad generalization that readers don’t want to read them throughout the community… a little exploration needs to be done.” — Anonymous

“I feel like WAY too much is given out about a book, especially in the “special sections” part. I don’t want to know why you love this character (except maybe a few general reasons), because I want to meet them on my own. I don’t want to know in great detail all the slow-burning phases of a romance. I want to be surprised. I want to anticipate. Please, no character analysis. You only see those in spark/cliffs notes that kids read if they don’t want to read the book for class.
Tell me how [a book] made you FEEL, but not all the reasons why it made you feel that way. I want your opinion, not a play-by-play. Really, I’m looking for whether or not I want to buy the book and read it. I have had books spoiled so many times that I don’t read reviews anymore unless I REALLY need to, or I have already read the book and want to see what someone else thought about it.
I think people just need to remember that they are writing a review, which is a short little blurb on their thoughts and if they recommend it or not. It’s not supposed to be a book report, where you analyze everything to death. The professional reviews on Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly are around 300-500 characters for the most part. And I think they are MUCH more useful than some of these reviews that go on forever.” — Anonymous

“Pet peeve–and I’m guilty of this too–is obviously bad grammar. There are going to be slips. Typos, etc. But I’ve read reviews before–from tremendously popular bloggers–that are short and have glaring errors. GLARING. It always makes me think that they are only throwing something together to have better stats from posting every day and that they don’t care about their content. Drives me NUTSSSS.
I think finding a way to vary the structure of a review would help pique people’s interest. This is something that I work on as well, so I don’t just mean that I find other reviews lacking because they are traditional. It is sometimes difficult to read a review fully–just because of the time it takes to take it all in–so finding a way to communicate the same points and thoughts in a more easily digestible manner would be awesome!
Writing reviews is often the hardest part of my blogging experience. I have not once been able to write a review in less than a half an hour, so I need time that I don’t always have. And I often find that I would rather keep reading than write the kind of review that I want to post (I write longer reviews), so I struggle to keep on top of them. Also, I forget things if I wait too long, so I struggle sometimes to piece things together. But I do think that reviews are important to blogging, especially when I’m reading a book I got from a publisher before it’s release. I do feel more of an obligation to post something in those cases even though I recognize that I will never be able to do it for all of them.” — Anonymous

“I’ve always felt that summaries of the book should be in the blogger’s own words and not copied from the back of the book or Amazon, GoodReads, etc.
I would like to see more reflection on the cultural significance of thematic considerations within the text. The relationship between what authors write/what readers get out the book and reality fascinates me.
I would also like to see more reviews which discuss both the positives and the negatives of the book. So many reviews are either gushy/fangirly or hate-filled; however, in my experience, readers aren’t so one-sided in reading.” –– Trisha from Eclectic/Eccentric

“I personally love reading book reviews, because it allows me to get to know the blogger behind the review a bit more. Sometimes I will avoid reviews for books I’m particularly anticipating, since I don’t want to be spoiled in any way, but for the most part I use them to judge whether or not I’ll like something. Reviews have been very helpful in terms of keeping me on budget! A lot of anticipated reads have become library loans instead of purchases based solely on other bloggers’ thoughts.” — Anonymous

“In general, I think we’re under the impression that writing book reviews need to be professional and critical. That it’s supposed to be objective. People lately have felt the need to set themselves apart by saying they’re doing “book talk” and not reviews. But I feel like, for me, these are the same thing.
Every review that I write is personal. I always mention how books made me feel or react or the like. While I don’t know if that’s always helpful for other readers, I feel like, for me, that’s usually what I try to find in other people’s reviews too. That way I know if there’s a chance I’ll be able to connect or like a book as much as they did!
I do think it’s interesting that reviews are getting so much flack. Personally, whether or not my reviews are read by other people, I find joy in sharing my thoughts — even if it’s just for me! Sure, I post it so that other people can see it an hopefully benefit, but I also don’t mind if it doesn’t get any attention at all. I’m very grateful for my readers and friends, but they’re not the main reason I write my reviews. I write them for ME.” — Anonymous

 So what do you think? Do you agree with the general consensus? Is there any thing in or about reviews that you’d like to see more or less of? How important do you think reviews are to your blog? To the book blogging community? To the industry itself?

We keep saying that there is no right or wrong way to write a review… But is that only to a certain extent? I’ve heard people say that and then still are upset with the length (either short OR long) of other people’s reviews. Or is that just a matter of personal taste and not what we “should” or “shouldn’t” do? Sound off below! I’d love to hear further discussion!

33 thoughts on “Results from the Survey on BOOK REVIEWS!

  1. Alice

    This was an awesome post–super helpful too. Do you use a piece of software to help you generate info-graphics like that?

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Amanda @ Book Badger

    Absolutely love these results. They’re so in depth and have given me some good pointers to consider for my own blog. I tend to follow the whole 2/3 paragraphs, intro and conclusion and most people enjoy that, and I also try to shake things up with different styles and not going too much into characters and focusing on how it made me feel. It’s pretty great that you have such a varied audience as well Brittany, makes me wonder what my own is like really, but I haven’t been going for a year yet, so I’m not jumping the gun. Thank you for doing this, and the quotes from other bloggers was so helpful too. You’re a star!

    1. Brittany Post author

      Thank you!! It was so interesting to see the results. They were pretty spread out but at the same time, there were still a few definitive answers!

  3. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook

    This was really interesting. I’m glad you took the time to create this survey. I’ve been hearing for the last few months bloggers talking about their book reviews. Although I do other things on my blog, it’s mostly book reviews, and I actually like it that way, but I was worried that that isn’t what people want. But then, I was also feeling like it’s my blog, and I should do what I want.

    So I’m glad to hear that most bloggers do want book reviews.

    1. Brittany Post author

      I’m so happy to see the results too! I’m glad that reviews are still important to bloggers. I feel like since people don’t always comment on books they haven’t read, it’s hard to gain a lot of hits for some reviews, but they really are something that’s important to our community! 🙂
      I also agree you should always do what you want and what you feel is right for your blog! I feel like the results might help steer someone in a different direction IF they were looking to make a change but you still need to do what is right for you! 🙂
      Thanks for your feedback!! 🙂

  4. Amy @ bookgoonie

    WOW! That must have been a massive undertaking to cull through. Very interesting.

    What I found is similar…my reviews are not the most trafficked thing, but I do feel it is the heart of the site for me. Length depends on the book, reviewing without spoilers & distance between reading & writing the review. I do read reviews & that is what I focus on when I am blog hopping. They help me create my buy & read lists.

    1. Brittany Post author

      Definitely! My reviews are still very important to me and even though they don’t get the most hits, it’s nice to see that we as bloggers still value them a lot!!

  5. Rachel

    Great post! I loved reading this and getting an insight into blog-readers! Something that was really helpful for me is that it shows there’s no general consensus; you can’t please all of the readers all of the time so you’re better sticking to the style that you like, and those who like it will enjoy your blog all the more. R x

    1. Brittany Post author

      Thanks, Rachel! I agree — it was just so interesting getting this insight, even if people don’t intend on changing anything about their reviews or their blogs. Sometimes it’s just nice to know what people are thinking in general. It’s very true — I know I definitely won’t be able to appeal to everyone but that’s also the nice thing about there being so many blogs out there! People will be able to find what they like somewhere and the best way to gain an audience, I think, is to be yourself in the first place and NOT try to appeal to everyone because then you’re not being true to yourself.
      Thanks so much for commenting! 🙂

  6. Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

    THANK YOU BRITTANY for putting together this survey and infographic. It’s so good to see all the varying opinions out there rather than guess at them. What I take away from this is that there are so many different opinions that no one review style is the best. Just do what makes you happy, this is a hobby after all and supposed to be fun. You won’t appeal to everyone.

  7. Rebecca @ The Library Canary

    Love these results! Super interesting to read what people are looking for in reviews. I’ve been debating getting rid of my star rating system now or maybe changing it up, but I’m unsure. I like that person’s thoughts on authors maybe not RTing or looking at a review based on the star rating. I can see how if it’s only like a 3 star rating they would be deterred, when in actuality, for me, a 3 star rating means that I enjoyed the book. Hmm… I will have to think about what I want to do. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. Hazel @ Stay Bookish

    This is such a helpful survey, Brittany! I find that I struggle writing reviews sometimes so it helps knowing what people prefer, what people want to see more, what people don’t want to see much of. That said, I so agree with the last sound bite on this post- I write my reviews for me too and don’t mind that they don’t get that much attention. I love rereading my reviews and remembering how I felt about a book! GREAT POST!

  9. Julie S.

    This was a great survey results post and I love the infographic you created. It is so interesting to see the differing opinions on reviews. I’m of the opinion that I run a book blog, not a book reviews blog, so reviews are not the main focus. We also do a weekly discussion, run our own meme as well as participate in others, and blog about bookish and author events. Those tend to get more feedback than reviews, since each review is not for everyone.

  10. Annie

    Wow, this was really interesting! I’m always a bit unsure about what other readers think about reviews. A lot of bloggers have spoken tons about how reviews tend to bring in less traffic and the general consensus just seems to be: “not interested in reviews”. It’s sad to me because I really enjoy both reading and writing reviews. This post offered a lot more insight into the habits of other readers/reviewers so thank you so much for putting in so much work into creating a really helpful and interesting post for us all!

  11. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages

    I cannot believe how many people write their reviews all at once! That is so terrifying to me, lol. I write mine out but then I refine, refine, refine over days or weeks. I’m almost positive I took this survey and I don’t think I said anything about gifs, but I agree that they are sometimes very overused rather than expressing actual feelings. Very interesting otherwise, I love when you do these surveys!

  12. Anna G

    I love that you did a blogger survey! I’m a new blogger, so I’m still trying to find my niche. I’m always curious about other people’s thoughts about blogging, too.

  13. Pam@YA Escape from Reality

    Thanks for putting all of this information together, some interesting results! I’m always curious what takes the place of book reviews. I agree, those get the least amount of traffic and take the most work, but I can’t imagine having a book blog without book reviews. I do wish there was a way to just talk more about books. I’ve actually tried to have a few spoiler discussions for people who have read the book, but those got the least number of responses. Sometimes I just want to chat with someone who has read the book, but you can’t really do that through book reviews because no one wants to read spoilers in the review or in the comments. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. Faith

    This is such a helpful post – I’ve referred to it a few times since you posted it, but I’m too lazy to write a comment on my phone, so I’ve only just got around to commenting!

    I think one of the most interesting things to me is how spread the review writing times are. The 15-30 minute, 30-45 minute and 45-1hour blocks all have a lot of votes, and there are still votes at both ‘extremes’ (the below 15 minutes and the 1 hour+). I just find it interesting how much variation there is in writing times I guess! (I’m definitely at the longer end of the spectrum myself).

    I do agree that reviews get less views generally, but it’s also interesting what Molly from Wrapped Up In Books said, about how reviews do long term. I went and looked at my views after reading that quote, and although my reviews might not get many views in a day, when you look at them long term they don’t fare that much worse than an ‘average’ post on the blog either.

    I think part of the problem is that reviews tend to generate less discussion. I know I’m guilty of only really leaving comments on reviews of books I’ve already read. A review of a book I haven’t read may well convince me to add it to my TBR list, but at that point I just don’t have much to say about the book itself, because I haven’t formed my own opinion yet. And comments saying how great a review is (which I admit I should still leave because it’s nice to know people are reading your reviews) don’t exactly generate a whole lot of conversation, even if a blogger comes back to say thank you to every one!

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together, it’s really interesting and definitely gave me some things to think about in terms of my own blog, comment and review habits.

  15. Estelle

    This was a great topic, B. I love hearing people’s thoughts on these things. In my opinion, they are not talked about enough. I agree with Nicole / The Quiet Concert’s sentiments. Everyone has to feel good about doing their own thing. We do it because we love it and want to do it. Not because we are being forced to. 🙂

  16. Anya

    As to one of your last questions, because my brain is tired ;-), I think it’s important for everyone to do what makes them happy blogging, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like their reviews ya know? There is this line between people wanting to improve their reviews/posts/schedule/whatever so that their readers are happy or they get more followers and then the other side is telling people who don’t want advice what to do, and that is an important line. I’m happy to read a post where a blogger talks about what they like to read or seen on a blog, but it’s only when it gets demanding that it gets annoying. I think some of this goes to this blogging culture in general of how to have snappy posts that get people’s attention, haha.

    In any case, thank you so much for doing this survey and putting it all together!!!! I thought I was such a black sheep when it came to the time it takes me to write etc, but it turns out I’m pretty average, yay!

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