What’s OK and What’s Not OK in Book Community

Hey guys! This year, I’m so blessed to get to know more Malaysian readers through Twitter mostly, be it new readers or long time readers. You guys are truly a bunch of amazing people but I can’t help to notice that many are still not aware that some of the things they are doing is not okay. I believe they do not have ill intention by doing those things but it is simply because they DIDN’T know that it is not right to do so. Tbh, I wasn’t aware of these issues 5 years ago when I first started to get involve in the book community. Fortunately, this is a wonderful community. I learnt a lot from my bookish friends and now I hope with this little awareness I have, I could help my Malaysian readers to understand what’s okay to do and what’s not okay when it comes to book community.

What’s Not OK

1. Don’t or at least avoid downloading pirated books.
I’ve been talking about this a lot this year ever since I saw people selling e-books on shopee, making a subscription group so that people can have access to hundreds of e-books for certain amount of price per month and also just creating a channel for people to download and read books for free. I understand the intention is well, one reader to another, to ease the burden, especially for those who can’t afford to buy books nor get access to books. I downloaded e-books illegally too once because I didn’t have a clue how the publishing world works. But once I knew about how authors wouldn’t get benefit out of the pirated e-books, how the people in publishing industry are affected, I stop doing so. Download the books IF YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY ZERO ACCESS to books. As a Malaysian, I understand where you coming from, not everyone has the privilege or access to the books they would love to read. BUT don’t make a group sharing pirated e-books as you like, that’s not right. Also, do read what else we can do to get access to books in the next section, there are many other ways to read books if you can’t afford buying one.

2. Don’t tag authors in your low rating reviews.
This is one of the thing I learnt and acknowledge after couple of years of reviewing. If you dislike a particular book, review it as honest as you want, with respect but don’t tag the author. You need to at least respect authors’ feelings and hard work for the said book. Not every author is going to be fine with criticisms, we need to be aware of this. Also, reviews are for readers, so that’s your main concern and target every time you review a book. Let your friends know whether the book is worth reading or not.

3. Don’t unhaul your books and acknowledge that said author of the books.
I saw this recently. It was shocking. Doesn’t matter whatever reason behind your action of unhauling certain books, be it you didn’t like it or you simply don’t want to keep it any longer, or you just hope people get to read the book at a cheaper price, WHATEVER the reason is, DON’T, NEVER purposely acknowledge the author lmao. Don’t go tag the author or quote tweet the author’s tweet and be like “Oh, I’m letting go this author’s book at half price”, etc. Be considerate. :’)

4. Don’t @ people for their negative reviews.
People think differently, we have different views on certain issues or topics and in this context on books. Let people speak on what they think and don’t jump at them unnecessarily. There are other better ways to question or to advice or to discuss about books. You want to respect an author, you need to respect a fellow reader or reviewer too.

5. Don’t bring down authors.
We have rant reviews, which at times is really unavoidable. But it doesn’t mean we hate the author, we simply don’t like the book, that’s it. So, whenever you’re reviewing, look at the book, look at the content, look at the writing style. You can give assumptions on why the writing style was the way it is but in the end of the day, it’s just what you think and assume, acknowledge it.

What You Should Do Instead

1. Buy books or borrow from the library or from your friends.
Buy the book that you’d love to read it. If you can’t afford, borrow from the library. Libraries are far away from you? No problem, we can borrow e-books on PNM (National Library) through Libby app. Just Google how or ask your bookish friends, I’m sure they will happily help you out. Subscribe to Scribd monthly and read as much as you like! Join book clubs such as Untitled and BookendsMY and find yourself more bookish friends, and if they are okay, borrow books from them. BUT REMEMBER TO TAKE GOOD CARE of the books you borrow, most of the book people have trust issues when it comes to our books, don’t go breaking our trust.

2. Tag authors in highly rated book reviews that you wrote. Show support.
Leave a rating on Goodreads, leave your review, support the authors you love through your positive comments. Buy their books, promote the books you love on your social media platform, recommend the books to your friends.

3. Have healthy discussions on books you’ve read.
If you see a friend dislikes a book that you dearly love and just don’t understand why they feel that way (even after reading their review), approach them and discuss about it. I’ve done this many times, I can always see and understand why my friends don’t like certain books that I extremely adore but it’s okay. I tell them what I love about the book and they tell me what they dislike about it and that’s that. We agree to disagree and move on. At least, we get to know what are the exact reasons why one like or dislike the said books. It’s good to get different views and opinions. And THAT is the beauty of reading, how we can feel differently about a story.

4. Give constructive criticisms and respect one another.
If you dislike a book, I hope you better have reasons for it. Don’t say you hate a book and just leave it there. You need to tell your reasons and which part could be improved. This is to help readers understand why the said book receives such a rating from you and also to help authors to improve if they ever come across your review. Lastly, be kind and be respectful.

P/S: Of course this is just from my perspective and what I know of all this while, correct me if I say anything wrong in this post. Also, this is a very subjective matter and we can surely have disagreement on certain points that I have laid out here but in the end of the day, please have some common sense. Have respect and be kind to one another.

To my Malaysian readers, I hope you find this helpful and I hope you won’t be ignorant about these matters anymore if you’ve come across my post. Thank you for reading and have a good day!

6 thoughts on “What’s OK and What’s Not OK in Book Community

  1. I absolutely am guilty for the first point of the don’t do list. But thankfully I get to learn about how publishing business works and how hard it is for authors to earn money, let alone get their books a deal. And yes to Libby! If I’m not mistaken I think there was a twitter thread you made that shared something about Libby PNM. I might be wrong there but it seriously helped a lot. I just feel much better being able to read books, legally, from library.

    Liked by 1 person

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