What Book Blogging Costs Me

Hello book lovers! Welcome back to my chaotic corner. Today I’ll be talking about something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

This post is mostly inspired by all the shit that has been going on in the book community lately, and by lately, I guess I can say for the past three or so months. These events aren’t limited to this short timeline, actually they’re recurring issues in the community but they’ve occurred far too much and too closely lately.

First I’d like to state a common and well known fact. Bloggers are unappreciated, international and marginalised bloggers even more so. If you’re a blogger, your effort isn’t as valued (well by publishers) as much as your counterparts on other platforms. Now, if you’re also international or/and marginalised, it’s going to be harder for you than for the average privileged (from location, race, identity and socioeconomic class) book blogger and that’s pretty difficult. And to be honest, being underappreciated or ignored is the easiest of the downsides of book blogging, the worst is the abuse or maybe I should be nicer and call it mistreatment. It’s the subtweeting, harassing, gaslighting and defamation from people a little higher up the chain than you are. It’s the ghosting and being taken advantage of. There’s a lot book bloggers go through for people who promote and market books for free. We do it for fucking free.

Now to the post proper. I should probably start by introducing myself again and properly. I mean stuff that should be on my about me page if I got my shit together long enough to finish it.

Hi! I’m a Black queer Muslim blogger from Nigeria, a third world country. My country is in a permanent recession (or are we in a depression right now?) and our currency isn’t worth much in the global stock market. Apart from that, we have a huge class difference and a high poverty rate. If you aren’t rich, you’re probably poor and the middle class is more close to the poverty line than anything. And my family isn’t rich! So in either place we fall in the class categories, it doesn’t look so good. My country also doesn’t have the fancy thing called libraries. Libraries here are few and only for educational pursuits.

I’m also a fourth year student of nursing science and I live with anxiety, persistent depressive disorder, and chronic pain. And I blog at my free time which is nonexistent. I should also mention that I don’t have a job because the way the educational system is structured in my country doesn’t give room for that, especially for medical and paramedical students.

Now that we’ve covered the basic things about me and the things that inadvertently affect my reading and blogging experience let’s talk about blogging costs me; financially, mentally and socially.

FINANCIALLY 

Yes, first we’re starting with money talk.

I’ve already established that: 1) I’m from a third world country in an economic crisis. 2) I’m not from a wealthy family and with the class difference, being part of the lower middle class isn’t much. 3) I am a student at a university and have no job, so in essence I’m fully dependent on my parents. 4) Libraries and accessibility of books is a dream here.

I have quite a lot to say in this segment and multiple angles to explore, so I’ll be breaking this down into subtopics.

  1. Books and Finance.
  2. The Cost of Running a Blog.
  • Books and Finance 

I’ve already given a brief introduction to this subject, but I’ll go deeper here.

Simply put, here in Nigeria we don’t have much of a reading culture. Not a lot of people read recreationally and it’s reflected in how accessible books are made.

Libraries aren’t created or funded or equipped for recreational reading. Bookstores usually have more self help, religious books and locally published books, most of which are available only because they’re included in the school curriculum. Some bigger bookstores sell fiction not entirely created for school reading, but for people who just love to read, but these books are mostly local published. International books are available only at a few bookstores and when they’re available, they are incredibly expensive.

One of the most laughable and unrealistic things I see from people online is when they talk about buying books and bookish content creation is a labour of love. I’m usually torn between being irritated or finding it adorable, because wow imagine thinking books are so readily accessible or affordable for everyone. It’s such a privileged and innocent take.

Now we’re talking books and money, let me roughly convert some major currencies to the Nigerian currency, Naira, or rather convert Naira to them. The equivalent of a US Dollar is 377.00 Naira. An euro converts to 444.67 Naira and a British pound is equivalent to 488.34 Naira. So in case you missed it somehow, with exchange rate and shipping, done by an individual or an enterprise, books are fucking expensive.

It also doesn’t help that we have very limited sources for books. Book Depository might ship to most corners of the world, but it hasn’t covered half of Africa yet and Nigeria is one of the forgotten places. Amazon Kindle is currently restricted in Nigeria so I guess no ebooks for us. Books on Kobo are hardly available to us too. Shipping with Amazon, would cost an arm and a leg for a student like me and sometimes costs even twice the amount of the book. Even if I’m able to buy a book and ship it safely, I’ll still have to pay a fee at the post office to get it. So again if you didn’t understand, books are expensive.

Books can be expensive enough to cost my groceries at school for a month. Sometimes a book costs as much as a banquet at a 5 stars hotel, and all that precious purity aside, I will without any hesitation or a second thought choose food over books. I apologise to the labour of love crowd, but I choose sustenance and treating myself once in a while.

The only avenues to get books available to us which I’m extremely grateful for are these few bookstores, Scribd and one I recently found thanks to Mafalda, Blackwells.

So please, next time you have your quirky or hot take to make, think about people like me that find it hard to access books and buy books. Think about all international bloggers.

  • The Cost of Running a Blog

Oh now I have so much to say or maybe not much because this is hard to articulate.

One of my greatest annoyances when someone comes on Twitter to bash book bloggers is they don’t know how much what we do costs us, particularly financially. Like I said before, book bloggers promote books for free but to be a book blogger is to prepare to spend money, a rather major fact I didn’t know before starting my blog.

The cost of running a book blog to the benefits of it, runs in negatives. To be a blogger who’s taken seriously, you need to be on the top of your game.

You need to be able to buy the latest or semi latest books. You need to be online and readily available on your social media because personality and approachability goes a long way. You need to have a decent looking blog, because nicer aesthetics does help get a larger audience. Sometimes you’ll have to have giveaways to grow your following. You need to be updated, and all these costs money.

To have a professional looking website/blog, you’ll have to spend on it and if you can’t you’ll have to learn to make it work somehow. Which means graphic making attempts which you’ll have to be on the internet to do (which also costs money). Being active on social media also requires constant internet. 

Like I said before, I’m just a uni student with no job and a lot of stress. I run my blog independently and pay all the costs that come with it myself. To help my platform grow, I’m almost constantly online. I’m either on social media talking about books and things related to books or researching stuff for my blog or supporting other bloggers or making graphics or trying to improve my blog. I do all this at a self acquired cost. To constantly be online, my already sky high because of school and school related research internet usage shoots high each month and each month I pay for it myself from my monthly allowance.

It’s part of the reason, I’m not really on bookstagram much because I need to manage my finances and not spend all the money I should use on myself on my blog and bookstagram. Also speaking of bookstagram, it’s quite hard for me to navigate the highly material trends as a perpetually broke uni student in a third world country.

A chunk of my finances go to running this blog and it hurts so much when someone says I’m not worthy of compensation or decides to harass me for my work.

MENTALLY 

I’m about to get very real with you all here. I’ve talked a lot about how much book blogging costs me financially but for me the largest cost has been mentally.

If you recall, I said I was a 4th year student of Nursing science living with anxiety, persistent depressive disorder and chronic pain. What I didn’t say before is as a 4th year nursing student, I’ve had 2 years starting from my second year of almost no holidays, writing exams just before or after festive breaks and dedicating my semester breaks to clinical work experience which for reference is also unpaid. Another thing I didn’t say is I spent at least ¾ of the past two years in on and off depressive episodes , and as I write this post I’ve been recently diagnosed with severe depression in addition to my dysthymia which means I’ve felt like absolute shit for most of the year.

Studying nursing is rough. Very rough. One of my best friends (who isn’t in the profession) says it’s a full time job. For me and the other students at my uni, it’s studying for a minimum of 22 course units (which I just get to take this year) each semester and a maximum/steady rate of 24 units. It’s having classes from 9am to 4pm every weekday with one day dedicated to a full shift at the hospital. It’s also having classes on the weekends because your syllabus is too broad to fit into the schedule. It’s spending your nights up trying to finish assignments and during exam season sleeping for less than 4 hours for a month. It’s wanting to cry and if you’re me crying because the pressure is so much. It’s studying your butt off because less than a 50% is an F and you also use a CGPA system. Being a nursing student in my country is to have your mental limits constantly exceeded.

And there’s book blogging. There’s having to be online and active. There’s having to draft posts, participate in tags, write reviews and plan readathons. It’s having my nonexistent free time dedicated to book blogging. To making TBRs, reaching my Goodreads goals and getting on top of my ARC lists. It’s another stress I don’t need as a depressed nursing student.

I also love book blogging sometimes. Sometimes it’s this fun thing to do to destress from the pressure of school. But that’s not all the time because I also do have an audience to work for and sometimes it’s too much for me.

SOCIALLY 

Here comes the funny and very short part.

If you’re my friend or have ever interacted with me, you already know I’m very shy and awkward well until I become comfortable enough to unleash my chaos. Suffering from anxiety doesn’t help either and one of my goals for the end of uni was to be more social, more open and do more things. But with the limited free time and how I dedicate a huge chunk of it to blogging it’s really hard.

I do enjoy blogging, but I don’t think if you’re not a blogger you know the amount of time creating content for a blog takes. 


I love book blogging. Sometimes it’s fun, like really fun, but sometimes it feels like a chore. Book blogging is so much more complicated than y’all paint to be. It’s so much work and book bloggers deserve so much better. This is my experience or a small condensation of it. My experience is not universal but I think all book bloggers who read this have something they can relate to.

So please treat us dignity and listen to what we say because it’s the least you can do for us. We put in so much and we don’t get enough. A book blogger asking for compensation isn’t unethical, I think it’s a good work ethic, knowing your time is worth something. Have the decency to talk things out respectfully with us and please stop ghosting us.

Support your favourite book bloggers. Boost our works, let us know when you tried something out because of us. Tip us because it goes a long way. Just treat us the way you want to be treated.

Goodnight (because it’s night, my time) from me. Support me and people of my community. Be a decent human being.

Also remember my Kofi link (if you want to tip me) is below!

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21 thoughts on “What Book Blogging Costs Me

  1. Allison says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. I’ve been following along with the discourse on Twitter and this post gave me a much deeper understanding of what it really costs to be a book blogger, especially one outside the privilege found in North America.

    What you are doing is so important and so, so many people appreciate you and support you. Bloggers are absolutely deserving of compensation and I will fight anyone who tries to argue otherwise.

    Like

  2. Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books says:

    I appreciate this post so much and it was enlightening to read your perspective. This is the kind of thing that is not talked about enough!

    Book bloggers truly are not appreciate enough. You are so right when you say that no one understand how much work goes into this unless you do it.

    Like

  3. Lauren Savoie says:

    Man I found this post on a whim but I hear you so much!! I am a law student, and while I am in the U.S., books are expensive as hell for me. It’s like a luxury. So my book blogging is usually of books gifted to me or the handful of books I buy each year. Usually they are from libraries. Honestly, if I hadn’t have had libraries my entire life I don’t know what I would have done. I relied on public libraries completely because my family could not afford books to read just for fun. My school textbooks cost way too much as well. But I feel you — the pressure of school makes it really hard to blog. And I also deal with chronic pain (people think I am “too young” to be in this much pain, or shouldn’t sit/study so much…) So this was relatable as hell. But I think we can make book blogging fun as it should be. It’s horrible that it becomes more like a “let’s try and keep up with all of these privileged folks and spend more money than we have” sort of thing.

    Like

  4. Tiffany says:

    I feel this post so much. I’m a blogger as well and I come from an area in the united States that doesn’t really read and if they do it Nora Roberts or james patterson. I’ve been super lucky to find a few popular titles at a thrift store but it’s only been under ten books that I’ve found. Walmart is the only place that sometimes has some popular releases. I’ve been very lucky and have had the chance to work with publishers a couple times. It’s very difficult for me to get them to accept a request because my blog isn’t as flashy as others and my bookstagram account isn’t getting the likes it should for the amount of followers. Being a book blogger is alot of work and I don’t have a job so any books I do buy have to come from my savings or a publisher. But any time I spend coming up with blog ideas or writing the actual post out I’m not getting paid a single thing. And then when I look at booktubers who are making money for everything it seems like I get angry. Because book bloggers aren’t treated the same as other book influencers. I’ve seen a book tour company on instagram hand out books and arcs to the same people over and over and then joke about how they love that all they have to do is take a picture and then their are done with the book. Same for booktube. They mention the book in a video for five seconds and get paid. What the hell. Another thing that really makes me mad is how much engagement they all get. My blog doesn’t get very many views because I have to have the free version of WordPress so I don’t get to use the plugins or things to help with seo. It just comes to easy to booktubers. I really don’t understand why publishers dont send out copies of books to people in other countries you would think they would want as many people to read it and spread the word for sales.

    Like

  5. debjani6ghosh says:

    Excellent post. I am also from another third world country, India. However, I do have access to Amazon Kindle. Can’t say anything about Kobo or Book Depository. I face the same issues with access to library. The nearest library is 20 km away from my home which takes 2 and a half hours to reach to. Most of the newest and trendiest books cost INR 500 and upwards which is equivalent to three meals a day for a person belonging to a middle-class family.
    So, all the ebooks I review on my blog I’ve received from authors/publishers and from Kindle free deals. No physical books for international bloggers.
    Plus, yeah, to create even a decent-looking blog, you need to subscribe to a paid plan. But we can’t ask for payment for reviews. This is so unfair.
    Thanks a lot for writing this post so honestly, Zainab.

    Like

  6. Ikram @ Readlogy says:

    “You need to be able to buy the latest or semi latest books. You need to be online and readily available on your social media because personality and approachability goes a long way. You need to have a decent looking blog, because nicer aesthetics does help get a larger audience. Sometimes you’ll have to have giveaways to grow your following. You need to be updated, and all these costs money.”

    you don’t know how I can relate to this. Sometimes I just want to just, go offline and read for fun but I feel like I can’t do that anymore

    Liked by 1 person

    • em/zainab says:

      omg, yes same! sometimes i actually do it because i can’t deal anymore. it sucks that we have to feel this way 😦

      Like

  7. Gargee says:

    Em, I want to give you so many hugs (but I won’t if you are not comfortable with that). I am an international blogger from a third world country, although my situation is better. Even then, so many things in this post resonated deeply with me. The amount of time and effort that blogging takes is ignored at every turn. I never considered being a blogger until I started working, because I couldn’t imagine spending that kind of money when I was a dependant on my parents. The need to stay updated and current with content around new releases and ARCs is so frustrating, because for years I couldn’t afford any of those. My “reach” has grown a lot since I started talking about those, because everyone wants latest content. I rely a lot on ebooks these days, and I am so sad that they don’t have those in Nigeria. I appreciate your blogging so, so much. You bring such a fresh and unique perspective to every single book or topic you talk about. As someone who also has clinical depression, anxiety and chronic pain, I understand how hard it is to keep carrying on every single day. You deserve so much more than what this community gives you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • em/zainab says:

      hi gargee! yes, hugs are totally fine and thank you so much 💗. yeah, it’s quite sad that being current also equates to being more worthy of attention and it sucks for bloggers that don’t have the means to be current. thank you so much for reading this post and your comment 💗

      Like

  8. ari says:

    Hey! I just found your blog and I’m going to admit that while I started blogging again a few months ago I haven’t made any effort to join the community in any social media, so this discourse while not totally new for me, is not something I’ve read a lot about.

    As someone from Spain, I do recognize my luck and privilege, having access to libraries, but even there you can’t access new popular books for a few years, so I can’t imagine how I’d cope without it. I hope the situation improves with time as new readers grow up.

    I know blogging about things we love is something that can help us relax and share our hobbies with other people, which is nice, but it is really time-consuming, even without taking money into the equation. If it gets to be too much to you please don’t be afraid to take a step back and take care of yourself.

    Book blogging can be an outlet but every community can be taxing sometimes.

    As for the money thing, this is where I keep asking myself how is it different to blog about books than to blog about other things. Fashion and beauty bloggers get paid to review products. I wish this was something that could be normalized, mostly because, as you said, international bloggers have to spend an amount of money people who live on the states don’t.

    They already have it easier to access most new books, since they are less expensive there, they have discounts (Spain’s law makes it so it’s illegal to discount books, for example, but still, I recognize I have it much better than people from other countries) and they don’t have to pay for shipping, so it’s really unfair international bloggers have it harder to access ARCs when the internet is a global playground, which means your promotion is as good as theirs because people from all over the world can read your reviews too.

    Good luck with your degree and I hope you can overcome your hardest days, I’m rooting for you 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Carolina V. says:

    So many things in here resonated with me, especially how hard blogging can be for my mental health and constantly feeling like what I do isn’t enough. I’ve been so lucky and fortunate to have friends and kind people send me books, which is in part why I have such a large collection. There are definitely a considerate amount of bookstores in Puerto Rico, but they often don’t sell new and diverse releases, and if they do, they’re too far away from me. Plus, I have to rely on my mom to order books for me online (which can often be expensive, especially if I order from Amazon and Bookshop) and I don’t have a job either, so all the money I have is basically gifted.
    I am honestly so proud of you and all the work you do! Thank you so much for writing such a thoughtful and insightful post ❤

    Like

  10. Books Teacup and Reviews says:

    Amazing post! I hear you. Sometimes my own mom says why are you giving your books and blog so much time when you don’t get anything from it. When my moms says that what should I expect from other people! But I enjoy blogging talking about books with people who know what I am talking about and it’s fun a place to share thoughts and I agree we have to give it both time and money to keep it running. I just hope this post reach to larger audience so that they can understands and appreciate what we do.

    Like

  11. Helen says:

    Great post and so very important. I feel like many people assume that blogging or social media is a cushy job but there is so much more to than just writing a blog post here and there. I’ve been blogging full time for about four months and just now realizing how much there is to do: you’ve gotta write the post, create the images, edit, promote across the social media platforms, be active and present, … and then of course there’s money involved if you choose to do giveaways as you said or buy your own domain or buy subscriptions to schedulers to help make your job easier. It’s hard but at the same it’s pretty rewarding.

    Like

  12. thecritiquesofafangirl says:

    This is such an important post! Being an international blogger myself this hit home, I feel so damn irritated when people just think that everyone can afford books and the way publishers don’t even try to make them affordable to everyone across the world.

    I don’t know what happened when it comes to this topic, I was busy with exams when it happened but it irks me a lot when people take bloggers for granted, we work hard, very HARD on our post but people have the audacity to scream that it’s not fair that bloggers get ARC but not us! Like what?

    I’m sorry I’m digressing, I just wanna thank you for writing this post because this post is so important

    Like

  13. antarireads says:

    i’m pretty new to the book blogging community but i realized a long time ago how underappreciated “we” are. thank you for writing this important post, i hope it will be an eye-opener for many!

    Like

  14. beckythemothling says:

    Being a book blogger is tough! The money thing is the main reason I’m not really a book blogger, even though I love books a lot. I only have enough money to buy a couple of books a month, and I’m not lucky enough to have a library with a wide selection of books (although I love my library a lot, it’s just a poor area). And I’m someone who lives in America, it sounds like its way harder for you to find books. But yeah, I totally respect book bloggers and the work they do. It takes a lot of work and money! Books aren’t free.

    Like

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