Thursday, September 15, 2011

Post-ReaderCon 1: Where I talk about being a reader and a Slayer

In 2001, I co-founded the online email group for Philippine fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (PinoySlayer). It was an active fan group for years, and even though the show has ended, the core group still gets together for other things. Prior to that I had been watching the show for years, participating in international forums and fannish stuff like that.

One of my longest posts ever in a Goodreads forum was on the topic of readers in the Philippines. I wanted to provide a counterpoint to the view that some readers seem to have, that they feel they are alone as readers because they can't talk about their books to friends or family, and don't see people reading in public.

Short version of that post: I am not a social reader. My extended family has at least one regular fiction reader per family, but we don't talk about books when we meet. My husband and I don't read in public transport. He doesn't read in a coffee shop too because he considers his books precious and will not take them out and place them in close proximity to that many beverages. We both don't blog about books. He doesn't even have a Goodreads account.

So, to casual observers, we probably won't look like readers. But there is a difference between, say, the person who watches and enjoys Buffy the Vampire Slayer if it happens to be on TV, and the person who loves it so much that she starts an online fan group (and buys merchandise, and reviews episodes, and buys DVD boxed sets even if she has taped all the episodes on VHS, and invites strangers to her house to watch the series finale... you get the point).

Some people aren't as ready to be social about their hobby as others are. Does that mean they love it less? They buy books too, but don't necessarily go on shopping sprees. How many books do you have to buy a year to be considered a "real" reader? What if you only borrow?

This by no means dimishes what the book bloggers and book clubs do -- in fact, I think that non-social readers rely on what the more social readers are doing. They also want to know they're not alone, but sometimes would prefer to lurk and privately agree or disagree in discussions, instead of participate.

The Filipino ReaderCon is a great first step though to get these readers to de-lurk, come forward, and participate in a non-intimidating way. And if you're this kind of reader you may have to step up at some point, like I did when I wrote that post, so your own issues are heard too.


  1. I don't know if what I'm going to say has any relation to your post, but I'll say it anyway because these were my thoughts about yesterday's ReaderCon.

    I went there expecting to meet new people who share the love of books. Of course, I already know you guys from Goodreads, but I thought it would also be a way to reach out further.

    Although I had fun with the people that I already know, I was also disappointed with the very obvious attitude that some individuals showed; they seemed to me to be very protective of their "cliques", flaunting it at times, and very obviously at that. Their actions seemed to say, "Hey, I'm like this and like that, I belong to this and that, these are my friends, and you're not one of us and you can't ever be."

    To cut a long story short, I was very disappointed to see cliques; they made me feel unwelcome. So even if, as you said, people finally decide to de-lurk and participate in activities such as this, it's a shame that they get turned away unnecessarily.

    Just sharing. :)

  2. Hi, Mina! Thank you for coming to the ReaderCon! Very interesting post. I agree, a lot of people aren't social readers. There are times when I don't want to talk about a book even if I love it so much. I like the idea that I'm keeping it "mine." Also, I don't think we can limit the definition of a reader to someone who reads socially, nor can we measure a reader by the number of books he or she reads or buys.

    For me, as long as someone knows that he or she is a reader and is proud to be one, that's fantastic. Though maybe we should have stressed that more in the ReaderCon.:)

    Silent readers can stay silent. Personally, I believe any reader can be any kind of reader he or she wants to be. But what I want other Filipino readers to know is that they are not alone. There are other readers out there-- some quiet, some very noisy. Doesn't matter what kind of reader they are, as long as they know that there are many Filipinos who read.

    @Monique - I'm sad to hear you were disappointed by some people's attitudes in the ReaderCon, but I appreciate your voicing it out. It's a valid feedback from someone who attended. And on hindsight, I think we could have done things better so that this was avoided. Please let me know how we can improve next time.

    But I hope there were other things that didn't disappoint you.:)

  3. @Monique
    I get what you're saying. I think it's related to how people act when they're huge fans of something -- some excluding does happen even in communities. (I'm guilty for example of being a huge Buffy snob, even toward people who like the show.)

    Maybe for future ReaderCons we can have people from the bookstores and libraries talking about their view of readers? I'd like to know what their issues are, if they feel there are enough readers to stay in business, and if there's anything I should be doing to help them, haha. :)