Stuff On Sunday: TMI {Too Much Information?}

Last week I asked you to tell me what stops you from commenting on a post, this week I want to know what you want from a post, specifically what sort of information do you want a book blog to share about the books they review?
Most book bloggers tend to devise a template for review posts fairly quickly, meaning that they provide the same information about about a book in each review.

Here at Book’d Out, for example, I include:

  • Cover image (linked to Goodreads)
  • Title (including series info if applicable)
  • Author name (linked to the author’s main website)
  • Publisher and publish date
  • Synopsis
  • Status (date read)
  • My Thoughts
  • Purchase links

Each review is also tagged with genre, star rating, source etc and occasionally I will also include an author bio, book trailer, a link to excerpt, series or alternate cover images.

That seems to impart quite a lot of information about the book, though I often wonder if it is the information readers want.  The variety of information bloggers provide is wide, some bloggers also include details like page numbers, format, ISBN, details of awards, links to reviews on other blogs, language and general content warnings etc., others share just the title, author and their review.  I guess my template evolved because the information I include, is the the information I look for on other blogs, (except the status information which is purely for my own records). For example, when I view a review post I always read the synopsis/blurb first to decide if I am interested in the book enough to know what the reviewer thought about it, I appreciate the link to Goodreads because I use the site to keep track of the books I want to read, and if I like the book enough those purchase links are going to enable my lack of impulse control.

Lately though I have been considering adding information about book length and possibly the ISBN number to the template. I do appreciate knowing exactly how many pages a book has and always check that detail on Goodreads so perhaps if it is important to me, it might also be to others.  The ISBN number I am less sure about because quite frankly it annoys me when one single book has a half dozen or more different ISBN numbers based on format, change of publisher etc. Personally I think a book should be assigned one ISBN and then different formats or international editions, should be differentiated with a simple suffix (but maybe that’s just me) and though I could share the ISBN for the specific title I am reading, in some instances that is not going to be at all helpful since my Australian publication will have an entirely different ISBN to the US edition for example. Okay, I think I have talked myself out of adding ISBN numbers. I’m still considering page numbers though.

I also wonder if some of the information I include as tags (which appear just under the post title) like the genre and rating, should be featured more. I choose not to feature the ratings because I know a lot of readers make a snap judgement of a book based on how many stars (or kisses, or caterpillars etc) it has been given. Everyone interprets a star (or equivalent) rating differently and while  I do have an explanation for my ratings available on site, an entire page in fact, plus you can hover over the stars in the sidebar for my interpretation of their value,  I doubt many read it, so I am more comfortable with them being a low key feature. As to genre, because I read fairly widely over many genres I don’t generally care if the book is a mystery, romance or fantasy because if the blurb and the review interests me I’ll add it to my TBR list, but I do know that many books bloggers are genre readers, only interested in YA for example, so tagging the books (and having the categories available at right) allows those people to read or find only the types of books they are interested in.

And then there are the purchase links. Right now I link primarily to Amazon & Book Depository, firstly because they are the retailers I shop at, secondly because they offer international delivery and thirdly, because I do have affiliate accounts with them (though I am lucky to make $2 a month  LOL). I also include links to a couple of Australian online retailers where applicable because those stores are the ones I buy from. I do wonder if I am offering the range of retailers people find useful. It’s often a time consuming process linking up to the specific book page at each retailer so  so far I have opted to take the easy way out by restricting it to just a few.

So today, instead of idly wondering, I am going to ask you:

What information do you think a book blogger should include with the review? What details do you consider are crucial, what are convenient and what are totally unnecessary?

Think about it and let me know!

33 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patty
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 05:26:07

    I like a quick summary… I like ratings…I like comparing ratings from reviewers and Amazon and Goodreads…I rarely click through any buying links…and I skim over overly long reviews…but that is just me. You might not need all of the links…aren’t they a pain to do…and tons of character analysis…I just don’t read really long reviews…I don’t want to know that much about the book…in order to decide whether to read it or not.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:13:50

      I sometimes skim long reviews too, though having said that the two reviews that appear after this post are both quite long!

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  2. miki
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 05:33:44

    hum me i add the isbn because in my country when you go in a bookstore to buy a book in english if you don’t have one they can’t help you ( they don’t take the time to check and such except for book in french ( and still if they are kind enough). I put the cover also because it can help but when there are several edition i only put the cover of the one i ‘ve read ( so if there are any change in another version it’s not the one i reviewed).
    I think it’s useful to know if the serie is complete or no ( but for me it’s not always easy to find) and i like to know the genre and such.
    The number of pages: it’s doesn’t bother me but it’s primordial eitheir for me.

    But, i like to know if there are a lot of violence and/or sex. It’s not that i won’t read a book with it but i prefer to know and also i prefer to know if there are homosexual relationship because i prefer to avoid them.( i have book with some, secondary characther for example but that not the most important). so i appreciate when the reviewer give me that precision.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:15:56

      I understand about the ISBN being important for you. A shame th ebookstore staff aren’t a little more helpful!

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  3. laurelrainsnow
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 05:36:45

    I do like the idea of a brief summary of the story, without spoilers; then I like to read about the characters, the themes, and how you felt about the book.

    I don’t include or look for ISBN numbers and link only to Amazon. I do post my reviews there, as well as on Goodreads.

    The number of pages and genre go on my Curl up and Read blog, where I have pages for books read, books purchased, review books, etc.

    And I include the same “stars” in my blog reviews as I do on Amazon and Goodreads.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:18:04

      Ah see my star rating might differ between here, Goodreads and Amazon cause they mean slightly different things.

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  4. Yiota
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:06:29

    I’m okay with cover and a link at goodreads. But i did a survey about it at my blog, about a month ago because i wanted to know too and i posted the results for everyone to see. So here they are in case you want to check them to: Results

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  5. Cat
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:26:19

    I like a cover image with a brief synopsis and most importantly what the reader’s response to the book was. Things like page numbers and genre are easily incorporated into that – I’m not interested in ISBN, links or ratings.
    I like variety in format and actually prefer posts that are less review like and more relaxed and chatty while still giving the same info about the book.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:20:42

      A previous post of mine was about my wish to make my reviews more conversational and the trouble I have doing that, Cat. I too enjoy chatty reviews

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  6. Sam (Tiny Library)
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:30:15

    I like reviews that start with a brief synopsis, and I appreciate it when the blogger writes their own synopsis rather than copying and pasting from goodreads or another source.

    I rarely look at tags, page numbers, publication dates or anything like that. I like personal reviews that are about a response to the book. I do look at star ratings though.

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  7. Alex W
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:38:22

    When I review books for my blog I usually just put the title and author, cover picture, Amazon description, about a paragraph and a half of what I thought, and the Amazon buying link. Your post has made me wonder if I should be adding more. I do usually put in my review that there was this or that that this or that person wouldn’t like. I don’t care about the page numbers or ISBN as long as there is a buy link. 🙂

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:28:18

      I think , going by the responses to this post, that what people want varies so much that whatever details you are comfortable with adding are fine 🙂

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  8. Natalie @ Mindful Musings
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 06:41:17

    I usually like to see the cover and synopsis of the book, but the one that the publisher provides is usually good enough for me (meaning you don’t have to write your own, though that’s fine too). And obviously, I like to hear how you felt about the book. Personally, I enjoy ratings as well, but I pay more attention to what’s in the review than the the marks the book received.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:33:14

      I am more interested in what the reviewer has to say than what they rate a book as well Natalie

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  9. Tanya Patrice
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 10:00:09

    Brevity is the number one thing I looks for in a review. I like to see the cover image, a very short summary & then what the blogger thought – most importantly, whether they loved, liked, or hated the book. I don’t need an academic thesis for a book review really. I will usually click through to Goodreads (since that’s the site I use to keep track) if I want to know more like page number, publication dates etc.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 17:34:16

      I try to keep my reviews reasonably brief but really I just write what I have to say so sometimes that is a lot, sometimes not

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  10. VeganYANerds
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 14:08:38

    Great post! I like including all the basic book info + a link to Goodreads because that’s what I like to see in a post too.

    I think the ISBN could be handy but like you said, it depends on where the reader lives.

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  11. Sarah
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 23:27:07

    Interesting post. I don’t currently use a rating system as I find on Goodreads for example I give virtually everything I read a 3 or 4 star. But as people seeem to like it perhaps I need to have a rethink!

    Spoilers are definitely a no no for me and I wouldn’t read a post that contained them. I like to keep the synopsis short but include any subject matter I think might put people off e,g excessive violence, child kidnapping etc. In my experience people often comment they won’t read something because of x or y.

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  12. Cialina
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 03:11:05

    Right now, I like the amount of information I provide with my reviews. Yes, I also provide affiliate links but I don’t think I make ANY money off of them. :/ Oh well. They are a bit time consuming, I admit, but I do them anyway.

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  13. FABR Steph
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 04:08:57

    Great question. Although a matter of preference, I like to read the reviewers thoughts more than reading the entire synopsis regurgitated. I like to see a rating and the ISBN. There are times when I am browsing and I just like the pertinent information to be easy to find.
    -FABR Steph@FiveAlarmBookReviews

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  14. Nikki-ann
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 04:21:55

    I include the author, publisher and ISBN, then a summary and my review, followed up by a link (usually via the Book Depository and sometimes Amazon). I also include an image of the cover.

    I will sometimes mention a page count if it’s quite high or low.

    I think it’s each to their own, really. However, i hate it if a review includes spoilers and there’s no warning. If there is spoilets (and a warning) then I skip over them if I’ve read the book.

    I’m not bothered about ratings as one person’s 3 star review could be another person’s 4 star review.

    P.S. – This is a great discussional post!

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  15. The Australian Bookshelf
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 18:35:36

    I think i tend to post just the basic book info in my review, along with a standard synopsis and then my own thoughts of the book including a summary in my own words. Over the past year, i have added things like the publisher and what format the book is in. I find it helpful when a review is linked to Goodreads as that is usually my first avenue for researching a book and i am often curious about what other people have to say. I don’t often search for a book using an ISBN unless i’ve tried using the author name and book title and haven’t located it.

    I find value in reading a written review as well as a rating system. I must admit, sometimes if a blogger is reviewing a book i’ve keenly had my eye on and i’m feeling impatient, i will scroll down to the rating just to get a quick glimpse of whether they liked it, then i will read the review to find out why (it’s cheating, i know!). It’s unlikely that i would skip reading a review just because i’ve seen the rating.

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  16. Sean the Bookonaut
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 19:34:38

    Well I post my reviews to my blog, amazon and goodreads. So I generally leave out a synopsis or cut it out when pasting to sites that already contain the info. I don’t bother with page count, ISBN its easily available elsewhere and is more stuff for me to write and format.

    I post a cover, a disclaimer is its a review copy, links to the authors site, and purchasing links.

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  17. Laura Ashlee
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 16:20:48

    I do look at genre. There are a few genres that rarely work for me, so I’m always sure to check what someone labeled a book before I decide to read it.

    I also like to know the page number. It’s nice if I’m looking for something and I come upon a review and think I think I’d like to read this now. I can tell from the page number what kind of commitment I’m going to be making.

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  18. Leslie
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 17:55:28

    I have a template that I use but I keep it simple. I always include a cover image. plus genre, publication date, format, #pages and rating. I don’t really like to include a rating but most people want to see one. I include format because I review a lot of audiobooks. I try to keep my reviews between 400 – 500 words… that’s the amount of type that fits on one page on most screens and lets people read quickly without a lot of scrolling. Maybe I’m over thinking this… but sometimes my marketing courses (that I took years ago) kick in!

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  19. mdbrady
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 05:07:42

    When I started blogging 2 months ago, I gave this a lot of thought and decided I liked less best. I want clear, easily copied title, author–maybe pub, date, pages. Instead of a perscribed synopsis, ratings, genre, etc, I prefer a sentence placing the book with more flexiblity. Since I am reading more globally, I want to name where a book is from and abput.

    I like your questions. They help me think about what I do.

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  20. Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 12:51:24

    Shelleyrae – I hear you on the time consuming process of adding affiliate links. I found a solution that has made my blogging time so much more productive: http://www.bookloverbookreviews.com/2011/07/super-time-saver-for-savvy-bloggers-skimlinks-affiliate-links.html

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