Thursday, 16 November 2017

"Paying it Forward" - Adventures in bookselling (for a day) and the worth of reviewing things you've received for free - A ReadItTorial

Who is that bearded weirdo?
This year we're once again setting up our stall and becoming booksellers for the day, selling our surplus books in aid of the local Baptist church Christmas charities.

We did a little write-up of last year's book sale which was far more fun than we expected it to be, with the ReadItDaddy team out in full force, selling books, recommending books and generally getting to talk to a lot of really lovely people who'd popped along to the sale in order to pick up a bargain.

Charitable book donations are our way of paying it forward, sharing the love of books with the secondary purpose of helping us clear our creaking bookshelves of books we've loved to bits but want to happily pass on to others less fortunate, helping folk to get hold of new books that would otherwise be out of their price range while helping a range of charities and organisations to benefit from our good fortune of being sent lots and lots of amazingly lovely books to read and review.

Regularly throughout the year we contribute to local charity shops too, as well as schools and other places that could use a bit of a brush-up with their book shelves or library services.

Never once during the entire lifespan of this blog has it ever occurred to us to try and profit from selling books (which would be utterly pointless and ridiculous, though I'm pretty sure others might have a different view on that, considering review copies of books a 'payment' for the time and trouble they've taken to write a review).

So if you're in Abingdon on Thames in Oxfordshire on Saturday 18th November from around 10am, till 2pm come and meet us and pick up a bargain!!

The second part of this ReadItTorial tackles a subject we've probably talked about before, back when this blog first started out and we made a conscious decision to review books and bin the idea of trying to do the whole "parent blogging" thing of reviewing anything we're offered.

There are thousands of parent bloggers out there who have a huge amount of time and expertise to put into their blogs and yet some of the things that always irritated us about that 'scattergun' approach to blogging are still present even in the blogs nipping away at the top spot on Mumsnet and the Tots100 listings.

It's a fair observation for folk to make that reviewing something you've received for zero pounds and zero pence instantly puts a lot of people on the back-foot. You have not paid for the goods you're writing up a glowing report on, therefore is there any worth in your opinion?

We've seen parent blogs giving more than 500 words to reviews of stuff that, quite frankly, I wouldn't let my daughter anywhere near, yet these reviews always make it sound like your life will instantly become meaningless and insignificant unless you start buying those super-healthy sugar-free juice boxes for your child's lunch box, or invest in a stroller or baby buggy that costs more than the average car (stroller / buggy reviews are hilarious, I remember reading a corker that gave a rave review to a buggy that had a little LED on it that lit up to tell you that your phone was ringing / you'd received a message. WOW eh?)

With books it feels different - and book bloggers have such a hugely varied opinion on the books they're reviewing that it's always worth digging into other people's blogs to see if they've spotted the same in-joke you have, liked the bits you've liked or hate the bits you really thought sucked.

Again though, you could cast a steely eye over people's book of the week recommendations (ahem) and start to theorise that certain books seem pre-destined to hit that slot, because they've had a huge marketing campaign behind them, because they're hugely well known titles with massive PR machines shoving them into the public eye.

Honesty is key though, and we always look out for blogs by folk who are so obviously passionate about books that they can talk the hind legs off a donkey if you dare to ask them for recommendations for a certain age group / certain set of tastes / books on a particular subject - but are also thoroughly honest (brutally so at times, without being cruel - that's a skill in itself!)

I always (semi-jokingly) said to Charlotte that we'd quit writing the blog, either when our reader figures dipped below 1000 hits a month, we hit a million unique clicks on the blog, or when she became so achingly bored with reviewing books that it became a real chore.

Thankfully none of those things has happened - yet (though a million clicks seems to be creeping ever closer and with a quick bit of mental calculation we'll be there sometime around 2019 when the replicants invade LA) but if we ever did quit, we'd consider what we've built here a job well done, and would definitely miss being involved in the amazing world of children's books even in our own small and fairly insignificant / irrelevant way :)