I’m going to start winding this site down.
I started Civilian Reader (and the far less active Politics Reader) while at university, in April 2006.* The blog was a way to get a bit of a break from the academic books and articles I was reading. I wanted to read outside of my subject and area of ‘expertise’, while also doing something with what I was reading. It was cheap-and-cheerful writing practice.
I think the site grew pretty well. Readership grew, quite nicely at times, and I know I convinced some people to read new authors. That’s one of the main things I wanted to do.
The advance review copies were very nice, certainly. True, sometimes the volume was insane, overwhelming, but… I loved that — it proved how vibrant the genres and industry were (despite the doomsaying).
Since leaving university, I have had a very hard time finding proper employment, and Civilian Reader became a way to fill and mark time. A way to convince/fool myself that I was actually keeping busy and being productive. I’m not sure that’s healthy, and I’m pretty sure it’s been counterproductive.
So. I think I’m done with continuing to work on the blog as I have been. It’s just something I can’t expend as much energy on it anymore.
In the future, if a book elicits a particularly strong emotion (good or bad), I’m sure I’ll post a review or some quick thoughts. Some habits are difficult to break, after all. There are a few review copies that have come through that I will be reading over the next couple of weeks, too, so I’ll review those as well. But, ultimately, I won’t be spending nearly as much time on the site. I might start using it for slightly different things, too. Some more interviews will go up, as they’re scheduled already. Maybe the occasional article and/or guest post.
I’ve enjoyed meeting author, editors, agents and other fans (in no particular order). It was through the blog and its Twitter account that I connected with a few new friends and interesting people with similar interests. Because it’s the internet, of course, I also witnessed a fair amount of douchebaggery, of course. And watching scandal after scandal unfold, fizzle, and inevitably die is both tiring and tiresome (even when you don’t take part). But the good far outweighed the bad.
It’s been interesting to see how the ‘community’ has developed over the past nine years. I’ve always been interested in fandom and its drivers, and it’s been interesting to watch the shifts in the SFF community — they’re predictable, follow pretty much the same evolutionary path. The size of the online community has also exploded. There are now so many reviewers/bloggers out there, producing a wealth of content for pretty much all tastes. Many of them have forged their own identities, putting a genuine, intelligent and interesting stamp on discussion, debate, etc. So that’s a good thing.
It would be nice if fewer people took part in armchair/tourist activism, though. If you believe in something, do it. Or be it. Or whatever other appropriate verb there might be. Don’t trumpet a cause only to do the opposite or forget about it when a new fashionable cause comes along. There are too many people who just want the electronic equivalent of an “attaboy”; who want to give the appearance of believing and/or doing the right thing. Too often, they then don’t.
Also interesting to watch and experience has been the changing relationship between reviewers/bloggers and publishers. I still think many involved forget what the relationship should be, but it’s also understandable how the lines get blurred — it’s a social industry, and there’s a camaraderie that develops between participants. It was fun to get to know some publicists as a reviewer and, later, as friends.
Something else I discovered more recently: it’s really difficult to search for specific GIFs…
So… yeah. That’s what’s happening.
ADDENDUM (because someone asked): I should also state that previously agreed-upon interviews, guest posts, reviews will be honoured, and any book I have received for review (especially requests) will still be reviewed after I read them. I just might be a bit slower about it. I’m also still willing to take a look at things if publishers/authors would like me to, but again I’ll be far more selective.
* Sort of – that’s just when I wrote my first review – Dan Abnett’s Horus Rising. Things picked up more in 2008/9.