Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Book blogger spotlight: Half Deserted Streets

For blogger Danielle Carey, Instagram ‘feels like the most enthusiastic and inviting place to flail about books online’. Her Instagram-based microblog, Half Deserted Streets, reaches 11,000 followers, but she also posts longer-form reviews and other book-related content on her blog and Tumblr. She spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘Book blogger spotlight’ series.

Describe your blog in under 50 words.

HalfDesertedStreets is an Instagram micro-blog celebrating books, literacy, and the enjoyment and process of reading.

What makes your blog unique?

I hope, above all, that my blog feels like a genuine, informal and joyful conversation about reading. I examine books through dual lenses that reflect my roles as a reader and a writing tutor; I read for the sheer love of it, but I also filter the text through the value of story in the formation of kids’ literacy and the development of their own writing skills. I’m also passionate about Australian literature, particularly kids and YA lit, so I’m especially enthusiastic about reading and reviewing local books.

When and how did you get started?

I’ve always documented my reading in some form or other, but Instagram made the process easy and delightfully visual, with the added benefit of instant community-building. I’ve run my account there for three years, and I have to say that readers on Instagram are a lovely, generous, warm bunch of people. I also share longer-form reviews and content on my blog, Bookity Boo, and reading-related bits and pieces at my tumblr account.

How do you find out about new books?

I find out about new books by haunting awards lists, following publishers on social media and through their newsletters, browsing bookstores and, of course, checking out what my friends (locally and online) are reading. I hear from publishers who are looking to build conversations around upcoming releases, and it’s a privilege to be a part of this dialogue and to be able to read new books as they are published.

What audience do you reach?

My Instagram account is where I have the largest reach, and I have 11,000 followers there. One of the beauties of social media is that it connects us with one another regardless of location or living situation, so I have followers and friends worldwide. Germany, India and the Philippines are three places with really thriving communities of readers online.

The majority of my followers fall into the same demographic as I do: women in their late 20s and 30s. However, I relish the input of men and women, young and old. Everyone has something to offer.

What other book blogs do you regularly follow?

I follow some fantastic people, but a few Aussie favourites include Erica @libretto_reviews, Kate @lillytales, Margot @project_lectito, Megan @childrensbooksdaily, and Tamsien @babblingbooks. I treasure these readers’ insights because they each bring a very thoughtful approach to reading. Their reading choices aren’t dictated by hype, and they embody the empathetic and generous nature of those whose world has been broadened by good books.

What has been your most popular post?

With the vagaries of Instagram’s latest algorithm, it’s sometimes a mystery as to why certain posts have a greater reach than others. I think the key for book bloggers moving forward is to focus on making authentic content that they care about, and to engage in conversation with other followers, regardless of the algorithm’s whims. However, my most popular posts on Instagram are often the ones celebrating gorgeous editions of classic books. Readers love what’s on the inside, but they also get pretty excited about an attractive cover.

What’s your favourite social media platform, and what recent trends in social media have you noticed in book blogging?

I’ve noticed a trend away from longer-form blogging as a primary source of content creation and, instead, an increased focus on transmedia conversations—messages that are being communicated across a number of different platforms. Increasingly, it feels that people are looking for content in smaller-to-consume portions, with a sense of immediacy to the conversation. Twitter is thriving in the reading world, and Goodreads is a wonderful, simple way to track reading and offer opinions or share recommendations. It’s probably no surprise that Instagram is my favourite online home. Although Instagram’s algorithm switch-up has made a lot of users frustrated, it still feels like the most enthusiastic and inviting place to flail about books online.

What are you reading now?

Right now, I’m partway through An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P D James (a local book club pick) and Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen, a recently released food memoir. I’m just about to dive into Because of You, an upcoming Australian YA release by Pip Harry.



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