Blog name: Stacy Alesi’s BookBitch.com
Blog URL: http://stacyalesi.com
Your name: Stacy Alesi
Can you explain the different features of BookBitch.com and what genres you primarily focus on?
There are two primary features; reviews and giveaways. I personally review mostly crime fiction, romance, books that appeal to book clubs, and cookbooks. I also cover food writing, occasional memoirs, sci-fi, fantasy, and graphic novels. I have other reviewers who contribute reviews of dystopian fiction, Young Adult, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and pretty much anything else that they want.
Each month I do a giveaway of autographed thrillers in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. One lucky winner gets anywhere from 8-12 books or so, all signed by the authors, and what’s even more special about this giveaway is that it is open to anyone over the age of 18 anywhere in the world. I’ve had winners from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and of course North America. I also do other giveaways sporadically throughout the month, and occasionally feature guest bloggers.
How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?
I am one of the original book bloggers, I’ve been online since 1998! I originally started the site as a way to keep track of books I had read, way before LibraryThing or Goodreads, and it just sort of grew from there. About a year after I started, I was contacted by a publisher (who has since been swallowed up by ever bigger publishers) and asked if I would give away their books on my website and the rest, as they say, is history. I wish I would have kept better track of how many books I’ve given away over the years, but it is easily in the thousands.
Since you’ve been blogging for such a substantial amount of time, how has the book blogging landscape changed over the last 15 years?
The biggest change is how many people are blogging about books now. When I started I had never even heard of a book blog, and truth be told, the closest thing to a “blog” was probably called a “weblog” back then. According to dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the word “blog” appeared in 1999 (that’s my inner geek librarian peeking out.) My first website was a free site on Geocities.
Now there are what seems like hundreds of book blogs. There are blogs for every type of reader, every genre, for ebooks, for librarians, booksellers and well, anything and everything to do with books. A lot of blogs are very commercial, with tons of ads, and that’s something I’ve kept away from. I never wanted to feel beholden to anyone or any company for a review, much less a positive review, so I just keep my head down and do what I do without any interference. I’ve also mentored some book bloggers – Lesa Holstine started out reviewing for my site and now has a very successful blog of her own, and Becky LeJeune still submits reviews for my site, but her own blog is growing as well.
For other book bloggers who have contributors, or are thinking of adding contributors, can you offer some insight into how you manage multiple Reviewers and how books are assigned?
For the most part, my reviewers read whatever they want and submit their reviews as they can. I do receive many review requests every day, and when something looks like it may appeal to one of my reviewers, I will ask if they are interested. It is their decision, even after receiving a book, whether or not they want to review it. It took me many, many years to finally be able to put a book down without finishing it (and I never review a book I haven’t read completely) so I don’t impart a different standard on my reviewers. Ideally, I would like enough content to post something new every day, so having contributing reviewers helps meet that goal.
Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah was a terrific surprise, it was very different from her previous books. I have enjoyed all of her books, but this one was truly special. In a lighter vein, I also really enjoyed The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and will be submitting a review shortly.
What title on NetGalley are you excited to read next?
I just requested Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay, he’s one of my favorite thriller writers. I have a couple on my immediate to-be-read list though, Memory Man by David Baldacci and The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer, and they are already on my Kindle. I’ve even been reading on my iPhone – I never mind having to wait in line anywhere!
How has being a NetGalley member and having access to digital galleys impacted your blogging and reviewing?
It just makes it so much more convenient! Publishers can email me a widget for a book they’d like reviewed and a couple of clicks later, I’m reading. Plus it saves time; I can hear about a book, find it on NetGalley, read it and review it all in the same day. It’s immediate gratification that I have come to take for granted.
How do you feel your additional librarian and bookseller experience has helped shape your blog and your reviews?
I’ve been working with the reading public for almost twenty years now, and reviewing professionally for about 15 years. I reviewed for Library Journal for over ten years, and for Booklist for the past several years, and all those book are assigned. So for my blog, I try to read and review titles that I feel my readers and my library patrons will want to know about. Recently that happened with The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It was wonderful to hear about a book that was garnering so much buzz, find it on NetGalley, download it and read it. I was ready for my patrons when it hit the NY Times bestseller list. On the other end of the spectrum, I love finding those books that may be under the radar, like The Organ Broker by Stu Strumwasser or Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge, both debut novels that I can recommend to those ravenous readers that constantly need to find new authors.
If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, because frankly, that was the point of that book and I thought Ray Bradbury was a genius. I much prefer being asked which one book I would bring to a desert island, and that would be À La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust, in the original French. I studied French all through school and have forgotten most of it, but I think if I had nothing to do but read Proust, I would eventually be able to get through it. It would keep me busy for sure!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our members?
I have been an avid reader all my life, and to be able to share books that I love with readers is a dream come true. It’s also an honor and a responsibility that I take very seriously. Nothing makes me happier than when someone reads a book on my recommendation and then shoots me an email to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I even cherish those comments from readers who hate a book I recommended – at least they are reading! Anyone who is passionate about what they read, even if they don’t agree with me, is a person I would be honored to know, and my blog is a great vehicle for meeting new readers.
Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Stacy!
Please make sure to check out Stacy Alesi’s BookBitch.com and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight.
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*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret