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.