Thursday Thoughts is a weekly feature on Ashley’s Blog Ok, Let’s Read. Each thursday, Ashley would open a discussion related to reading. This week, the topic is book hype.
“If a book is over-hyped does it make you want to read it more, less, or does it not effect you whatsoever? Do you think book-hype helps or hurts new releases? Do you think book-hype can sometimes skew or taint people’s opinions on a book? What was the most recent over-hyped up book you can recall?”
Feel free to join and/or check other people’s opinion on Ashley’s post!
On how book hypes make me run… away
I remember the first massive book hype I witnessed: Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling’s books seemed to sprout everywhere. There would be tower-tall stacks of them at FNAC (a popular French bookstore). In the metro, people would be reading it shoulder to shoulder. It was like walking this book around was a new fashion!
At that time, my reaction was a complete rejection. When too many people do the same thing, I tend to think something’s off. Don’t ask me why.
However I was later babysitting my neighbours’ children and the girl had just got one of the Harry Potter books. She was very enthusiastic about it – which was super cute by the way – and she put the first volume in my hands. I read a few pages. I liked it. I read the whole series afterward.
So book hypes usually put me off but it’s not definite. I won’t absolutely refuse to read a book that triggered a hype, but I would usually wait for all the excitement to cool down. If people still talk about this book after a few years, chances are I’ll be curious enough to have a peek.
Do hypes help books?
I’m certain that book hype helps new release in a commercial way. Nowadays, hypes (and fashions) come from good marketing most of the time. It’s good marketing and sale strategy that put a book on every shelves in every book stores. I have no doubt that publishers make (complete or relative) success happens by their work.
Recently, I found that the biggest hypes come from adaptation to cinema. It just gives so much visibility to the book and suddenly everyone wants to read it! I did read the whole His Dark Materials series after I watched the first (and only) movie at the cinema. Same thing for the Books of Ember series.
Another type of hype comes from the author’s fame. We were talking about J.K. Rowling. After the seventh tome of Harry Potter, everyone was excited about what she would write next. There was a big hype around Casual Vacancy and the book did sell a lot, but disappointed reviews sprouted everywhere. The NYTimes review declared that it was “not only disappointing—it’s dull”.
This leads to my other point: hypes might also lead to disappointment from the readers. Hypes build expectation. A good-but-not-excellent novel might be perceived as even less good than it is, merely because the hype made you expect a masterpiece.
The last over-hyped book I read
The last over-hyped book (that I read) was the Hunger Game. Let’s clarify: I did enjoy it. But that’s it: I enjoyed it. This was not – really not – a masterpiece. And I guess I got extremely annoyed at the “similarities” (that’s an euphemism) to Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. What’s more, I found the book cheesy and deprived of any deep thoughts compared to Takami’s book, in which the “game” is a social critique. I never read the two other books in the Hunger Game series.
Did you ever boycott a book just because of excessive marketing around it?