Book reviews don’t get much engagement: Why?

Jan 9, 202032 comments

As many of us did, I started my blog to talk about the books I read aka book reviews. At some point, people in my real life could only take so much of my nerdiness and were glad that I found a place (where they weren’t required to be present) to do that. 

That is why, despite what the statistics say and constant murmur about how “nobody reads book reviews”, I can’t give up writing on book reviews on my blog. Yes I agree they bring fewer comments and likes, if at all, but it is something I do for myself – even if it has shifted being a rant review from the initial days to a more structured format now. 

Why #bookreviews do not do so well in terms of #engagement, despite the fact that just few years ago that was all the #bookblogs were doing? What do you do to make them more appealing? Let us talk. Click To Tweet

It is true that many book bloggers have reduced the frequency of posting book reviews. And a few have even stopped posting them altogether on their blogs and publish them on Goodreads instead. Well, that is never happening on Elgee Writes

I am good at over-analyzing things and sometimes I do make sense. I have been wondering why book reviews don’t get engagement, despite the fact that just few years ago, that was all the book blogs were doing. 

Why book reviews don’t get engagement, actually?

Why aren’t book reviews getting the attention they deserve? Especially considering they are one of the hardest type of posts to write on a book blog. Well, let me over-analyze that for you.

“I want review of *insert hyped book title*!”

The popularity of the book reviews is almost dependent on how popular the books you review are. But as a reader/reviewer, I can not always read books that are popular because

  • I may not have access to all the popular books due to geography and duh.. money.
  • I may not be interested in those books, bringing me to the next point.

“I don’t read historical romance!”

Every reader/blogger has a favorite genre of books. And not everyone will love to read all genres. I for one, read very few Science Fiction and fewer Fantasy books. 

I am definitely losing on readers who are looking for reviews of Sci-fi/Fantasy books. For want of more readers, I don’t think I can spend time reading what I am not interested. I know that goes against everything blogging stands for, but sorry.

“Reviews are very subjective”

More often than not, book reviews in blogs talk about what WE THINK of the book, as blogs should be doing. We end up talking what WE liked in a book and what WE didn’t. We do not talk about what was good and bad in an objective manner, nor many of us aim to do that too. 

Obviously, we like that kinda subjectivity and prefer to keep that way. So unless the reader shares our tastes and preferences in choosing books, they may choose to ignore our reviews and we can do nothing about it.

“Part three? I have not even read the first!!”

Trilogies are all the rage currently. And when you review a book that is part of a series, you have a fairly smaller audience because unless they have read the other books the readers may not be interested in yours at all.

Sometimes readers might hold out on reading your review until they read other parts so that they can avoid its influenced. 

“Have I heard of this book?!”

If your reading tastes are anything like mine, your reviews will be books that very few people have heard of. My reading list rarely consists of popular books, though I am trying to change that and begun reading more Young Adults and romances last year. 

So it goes without being said, those book reviews have fewer engagements. As a reader of “not so popular-yet” books, I have to take that chance.

“Reviews are not honest enough”

Of late there has been a shift in the review field, that bloggers are shying away or refraining from giving a negative or even a moderately critical review for any book.

Yes I understand why they decide to do that (saving their mind’s peace is one of the main reason) but still as a reader I might want to know what went wrong in the book by reading a review. 

So when that doesn’t happen often they might tend to quickly dismiss reviews as mere promotion tool for the author.

“What to comment?!”

Many a times, readers are genuinely stumped, not knowing what to say. Unless your reviews stand out and make them want to talk about them, book reviews usually do not invoke much response. What could they say about your thoughts about a book they have not read yet? 

I usually throw them a lifeline asking something generic at the end of my post so that it might help to comment, even without reading that particular book. But beyond that, there is nothing else I can do about it. 

Can we make book reviews better?

On an average, I follow about 50+ book blogs on a regular basis and if each even posts one book review per week I read about 150 book reviews approximately each month. I am sure many bloggers do more than I do. 

That makes it quite understandable that people skip commenting on book reviews, which let’s face it, are a drag compared to other posts like tags or discussions.

So it is on us as a blogger to make the reviews more engaging and interesting. I will post more on that in the coming weeks. 

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Let us talk

Do you still post book reviews on your blog? Why do you think book reviews don’t get engagement at all? If you are a reader, let us know what do you expect from a review to make it more useful? Let us talk. 

32 Comments

  1. Dianthaa @ Dianthaa Dabbles

    I only recently started doing book tags and top tens (wow the internet really loves top tens) and one hand I love that they’re getting traffic and engagement, but on the other hand my precious reviews that I put so much more thought into barely get a few clicks.

    It still makes me feel a lot better to know that it’s not me, it’s everyone. I noticed even with myself, now that I’ve started blog hopping, discussion posts, even tags are a lot easier to comment on. There’s a few blogs I find that share the exact same kind of books I love, but those are few.

    I also read a lot of indie books, that few people have heard of, so of course no one’s really interested in my review, but that won’t stop me shouting about these books because they’re amazing.

    Reply
  2. lissa

    I’m a book bloggers but I do post book reviews on my blog. I just give my honest opinion, good and bad but I doubt people read them because I read books not many people heard about.

    It’s true, I do not read reviews for books I didn’t read but if I have an interest in a book, I would read all the reviews.

    I don’t have a particular like or dislike about book reviews but I really like when a reviewer is passionate about what they have read, whether it was good or bad, but it really is a matter of opinion because to me, all reading experience various and no two are alike.

    But to engage me in commenting, I suppose, I would have to have some interest in the book. Most times that’s not the case because we all have different taste in books. But I do find new books to read mostly from book reviews on blogs and even youtube.

    Have a lovely day.

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      I understand how you feel about reading books that no one else reads. Sigh. Half my TBR is not hyped books.!

      Reply
  3. Roberta R.

    I must admit that I almost only read reviews of books in my niches…I don’t read romance and straight-up fantasy, and since I know I won’t get interested in such books anyway, I skip reviews for those genres. (Also, there are only so many hours in a day LOL). But even if I read them, it’s rare that I comment, because…what can one possibly have to say about a book they haven’t read? “Great review” sounds so insincere, even when it isn’t.

    That being said, I started to blog EXACTLY to spotlight those less hyped/small pub/indie books I kept discovering that should have gotten more attention IMO. More than 7 years after and I’m still doing it. Because, as Eline pointed out in her comment above, “If (and I’m just making this up) 50 people read my review about an unknown book and 3 readers actually buy it because I recommended it, that’s really a lot more awesome than 100 people reading the review about the hyped book and they all already own it anyway.”

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      You put it so succinctly! Keep up all your good work towards the indie community.

      Reply
  4. Charity

    This was such a great post! I actually enjoy reading books, so I like to read reviews that way I know which books are recommended or not!

    Reply
  5. Kal @ Reader Voracious

    I won’t stop writing and posting my reviews on my blog – that’s why I started reviewing and still the greatest sense of accomplishment that I get. But I know why people don’t read / comment on them, and you listed most of the reasons in this great post!

    I ‘ve always committed to reading and commenting on as many reviews as possible because I know how much work these posts require and how little love they get comparitively. But then again, I haven’t been hopping from my reader in months…

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      I am not going to stop reviewing either, despite the low engagement.

      Reply
  6. Charvi Koul

    Ah these are all very good points! I’ve kind of given up on book reviews plus I don’t really enjoy writing book reviews as much as other posts so it’s a win win for me!

    Reply
  7. Rosie Amber

    I try to support the self-published and indie author with reviews for their books, so I completely understand about the lack of popularity for these books with readers. So many haven’t heard about the book or the author, so unless they read the review and it appeals to them, I get very little engagement.

    I struggle to be interested in all the book blogs who post books for book tours. There are so many book tour operators and some tours are for far too long, in my opinion. Plus I’m never comfortable with all the ‘positive’ reviews for these book tour books. Surely they can’t all be the next ‘best seller’?

    Reply
  8. Fanna

    I honestly can’t wait for the next post where you share ideas on how to make reviews more engaging. I definitely agree with reviews getting less engagement, views, and just overall reception. What I recently tried to do was include pointers in my reviews so if someone doesn’t like huge blocks of text, they can still take away something of value from that review. It also gives a chance for the reader to comment because one point stuck out to them.

    Reply
  9. Jenn @ Bound to Writing

    I’ve considered not posting reviews on my blog because of the reasons in this post. Instead, I decided to keep posting them and making them shorter. It no longer takes me a ton of time to create those posts so even though the engagement is low, I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time writing them. Wonderful and insightful post, Gayathri!

    Reply
  10. Shantala

    I agree with everything you’ve shared. Those are the reasons why book reviews aren’t as popular as other posts. That being said, I myself have been guilty of engaging less with review posts. So how can I blame anyone else?

    Which brings me to the question of – will I reduce posting book reviews on my blog? Yes. Mostly to make room for the kind of content that I personally enjoy reading more.

    Will I stop posting reviews on my blog? No, not at all. There are some books that deserve full posts dedicated to them. And they are some of the most satisfying posts for me to write as well. So while I might reduce the frequency, I’m definitely still continuing with the book reviews on the blog.

    Reply
  11. Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages

    These are all such nice pointers, Gayathri. True, review posts get the least engagement but like you, I am not going to ever stop reviewing books on my blog. I might change the way I am presenting those because of lack of time, but not stopping at all.

    Reply
  12. Eline @ Lovely Audiobooks

    That’s a very interesting post! I started my monthly book review link-up because it bummed me out that book reviews get so much less love even though they take a lot of work to write.
    Your points are all very true and valid and I had a few kinda unconnected thoughts while reading. I’ll just throw them in here:

    #1 People love lists because they’re easy to skim over. That’s why listicles have been such a hype all over the internet. A book review is always more in-depth and tends to look like a wall of text which – I admit – I often shy away from, too.

    #2 Book lists, tags, and discussion posts have more points people can engage with. When I write a review of one book, the post only really appeals to people who have either read it or want to read it. And they’re the only ones who can comment on it. When I write a list, one of the books might be interesting to a reader and they comment on that, while someone else comments on an entirely different book. The group of people who can engage with the post is simply bigger.

    #3 I think it’s important to have a reading niche on your blog (at least if you’re just one person). Because that way, people know that you’re the person to turn to when looking for book recommendations in their genre. So that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The people you “lose” as readers likely don’t have that much in common with you and wouldn’t keep following you. They’d also only read a tiny fraction of your reviews because they aren’t interested in all the other genres. I prefer a loyal reader who returns and reads the majority of my reviews to discover new books (which is btw. why I’ve moved my blog from reviews of any rating to solely recommendations).

    #4 It often does bother me how many more views the reviews of a hyped title get, as opposed to a review of an indie book I loved and that I wish more people knew about. But that’s the tricky bit with statistics. If (and I’m just making this up) 50 people read my review about an unknown book and 3 readers actually buy it because I recommended it, that’s really a lot more awesome than 100 people reading the review about the hyped book and they all already own it anyway.

    I’ll still write reviews for books that I feel need their very own dedicated blog post. But I’m also trying to write more themed lists as a way to introduce people to different books.

    Reply
  13. Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

    You have some very good points, Gayathri! We only post a couple of reviews each week now – sometimes less. But we have other ways to talk about books we’ve read, like Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts, and Safe and Sexy.

    Discussion posts are what get the most comments, though, even if we don’t do them very often. I think those are the kinds of posts that get the most interactions because it’s easier for everyone to have an opinion about something that isn’t just a book review.

    Have a terrific Sunday!

    Reply
  14. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I won’t ever stop posting reviews, but I do post a lot more of my Bite-Sized Reviews posts where I review multiple books in one post. I find that I get more engagement that way because a lot of times people will find themselves interested in at least one of the books featured. I still know that they get a lot less engagement than other posts, but my blog is all about books and I’m not getting rid of reviews!

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      I love this idea of bite sized review and I have been doing that these days as well – especially for non fiction reads.

      Reply
  15. Olivia Roach

    Reviews are very subjective and people rarely go on book blogs to find them – usually they head to Goodreads or Amazon – but I personally LOVE book reviews. I learn about new to me books, and I always am interested in what other people think. I like discovering underrated reads, and all that kind of thing. I have found that while reviews are not my most popular videos/posts in the beginning, years later people still comment on and like my review posts/videos later down the line. They are evergreen content and people research for reviews and still read them regardless of when they are posted. Whereas discussion posts and other kinds are more topical and short term. So both good, for different reasons in terms of engagement!

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      Yes, they are definitely evergreen content. And most of organic searches are for reviews! Thanks for bringing that up.

      Reply
  16. Sam@wlabb

    I agree with everything you have mentioned. I liked when my co-bloggers would drop in and post a review every now and then, because I read contemporaries almost exclusively, while they do more speculative and literary fiction. I also like their perspectives on realistic fiction, as they are all part of a one or more minority groups, while I am not, and therefore, do not comment on many issues present in a lot of contemporary literature these days. I DO read a lot of reviews, even when they are not for books I would automatically add to my TBR. I have been convinced to read a few non-contemporaries due to reviews from my peers, but it is hard to leave a meaningful comment, when you haven’t read the book. But, like you, I will keep posting book reviews, because I enjoy showcasing and screaming about books I enjoyed.

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      That is exactly my predicament too! Glad we are on the same page..

      Reply
  17. Satou Johns

    I dont know what to say. I mean I have notice that… nobody is engagement with a review and you make a lot of sense, and here we are proving that xD

    I am part of those that is posting reviews in Goodreads more than in my blog and I am doing more of other posts but I am still working o the mechanics of the blog again. Haha

    Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      Well, you choose what works for you. Looking forward to reading your reviews!

      Reply
  18. Madge

    I almost stopped writing reviews on my blog because I thought it was just me experiencing less engagement on those posts than on others, but it’s one of my goals this year to write more reviews so I have a record of what I thought of a book.

    I love reading reviews, particularly for backlist books I’m on the fence about reading, or books I just finished and want to see what other people thought of it. I think I might be weird because I don’t often go to goodreads first for that, and instead I search for blog posts (and sometimes videos).

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      That is exactly why I write my reviews as well – to keep a log for myself! And I spend more time on blogs than Goodreads too!

      Reply
  19. Lashaan Balasingam

    Well said. This is quite sad but so true. There are so many factors that have a role in the level of engagement. If a person’s goal was to just get as much likes/comments as possible, they’d actually have to ONLY read things that EVERYONE reads… Which is a sad sacrifice to make. Great post!

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      We need to find a balance between reading popular books for blogging and reading obscure ones for ourselves.

      Reply
  20. Becky

    I still post book reviews but have the same issues you (and many others!!) do too! I find my non-review posts get much more traction, but I’m unsure how you could change it tbh because like you said – it’s based on popularity!

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      Even reviews of popular books get poor interactions sometimes!

      Reply
  21. Allison

    I’m going to be honest. I write book reviews, but I don’t generally read many book reviews. I am trying to do better this year, but most of the time I don’t read reviews because I am afraid of spoilers! I don’t want to know too much before reading a book, especially mystery/thrillers.

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      YES, spoilers make reviews so much worse! I sometimes skip reading the blurbs even on reviews.

      Reply

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Hello there!

Gayathri loves reading, recommending books and talking about bookish things in real life. Her blog is just an extension of that habit. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she freelances as a beta reader. She lives currently in Dubai.Head over to meet me

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