Recently, Mark Charan Newton, author of Nights of Villjamur, as he’s wont to do, stirred some feathers when he challenged several bloggers to diversify their book coverage, to shift focus from all the frontlist new releases and give more coverage to the wonderful backlist of the genre. Long story short, the blogosphere can only handle so many reviews of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson and The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. Authors and novels of high profile get a huge push from their publishers, and that results in coverage from every blogger under the sun; Newton argues that it would do everyone (reader, author and reviewer alike) some good to look into the past.
Myself and Larry Nolen, from OF Blog of the Fallen, disagreed with Newton, at least in part. We agreed with Newton that diversification is a good thing, but that true diversification means so much more than just dipping your toe into the forgotten classics of the genre; rather, it’s about stepping outside the boundaries of the frontlist books (you know, those ones that are shoved down your throat through blogs, twitter, Facebook, newsletters, bookstore promotions and heft marketing budgets) and explore what else the genre has to offer, regardless of whether it was released today, a month ago or before the Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup (1967, for all you non-Hockey fans reading this). The Speculative Fiction genre has so much to offer that you could pick books out at random and never run out of good reading (granted, there’s an equal share of bad reading in there, but it’s good to experience that from time to time, to keep perspective), so why are we bloggers and reviewers often obsessed with keeping up with the times?
Of course, discussions on the ethics of bloggers are boring. But this call for diversification is something all readers might consider, whether they end up taking Newton’s advice or not.