Book newsletters are a throwback to book blogging and I’m here for it

It was around 2006 when I first learned what a blog was, and it didn’t take me long to create my own, learning all about HTML and coding before I knew what was coding. My first site was a book blog, which I maintained for nearly a decade during the early days of blogging, the great migration to social media platforms, and the surge in popularity of book content creators.

I finally made Instagram my primary blogging platform, at which point, no longer a secondary social media promoter for my longer posts, but as a primary medium for showcasing the books I liked. excited. Over the past five to ten years or so, creators have seen explosions on BookTube, Bookstagram, and BookTok as content seems to move further and further away from the original text book blogs. And while content is now more video-focused, “blogging” is a loose enough concept that all of this book media can actually fall under that umbrella, even without all the pieces we think of when we think of blogs. from 2009. Book Riot’s very own Danika has a great video on why book blogging isn’t actually dead, even though people think it is.

This brings us to 2020, plagued by a global pandemic, irreparable burnout and a general feeling that everything is too much, too loud and too overwhelming. There are too many platforms and too many things to see on the platforms.

But I felt a shift in my own media consumption, and it seemed like others were too. I found myself, instead of scrolling through social media to see the same five books promoted over and over again, looking for creators whose work I admired and whose opinions I valued. I started noticing that many of them had newsletters, at which I would have previously frowned and asked, “Why should I voluntarily sign up to receive more emails?”

But then, against all odds, I found myself signing up for newsletters, specifically newsletters. It felt like stepping back in time, reading my blog recapping all the new posts I’d missed since the last time I logged on. I loved the thought and care with which the content was built. Although I’m just as obsessed with TikTok as the rest of the world, I absolutely loved that this simple format – an email – gave me both a new window into the books and one that felt more more familiar and comfortable in a difficult and scary time. .

I eventually started my own book newsletter, Reading Under the Radar, a brand new venture that got me excited about books and writing for the first time since the pandemic began, focusing on books that probably aren’t on popular online listings or aren’t everywhere. BookTok, books a little more discreet than the bestsellers. Personally, I enjoyed longer, more carefully thought out bits rather than a lot of quick bursts.

And I’m not alone.

Substack, a newsletter hosting platform, has some cool infographics on how the popularity of newsletters has grown and continues to grow, but most importantly, in September 2021, Substack alone generated nearly 25 million hits , not even mentioning any other hosting site. Popularity is growing exponentially, with more and more people finding their niche interests represented by newsletters they can subscribe to without all the hassle of other things they don’t want. People establish rituals the same way people sit down with a cup of coffee in the morning to read the newspaper, only this time they read their newsletters. The cupin a July 2021 article, said that email newsletters are a “new literary genre”, both in describing traditional newsletters covering pop culture, politics, etc., and in those that are newsletters serialized fiction, presenting a new chapter in a one-time story to readers.

With the growing popularity of the slow-moving lifestyle, the rise of #CottageCore, and the exhaustion everyone is feeling from endless work cycles, something that feels slower and feels a bit like a throwback to back isn’t just nice, it’s refreshing and necessary. Going back to longer textual content seems odd, especially in the age of TikTok, but the numbers don’t lie, and millions of people are finding joy and comfort in creating and reading newsletters, just like before. with blogs.


Find other literary newsletters to sign up for or choose from the many newsletters written right here at Book Riot!

Harry L. Blanchard