Peer Review – Bec’s Bookshelf

From the onset, Bec’s Bookshelf captured my attention due its unique nature and potential for trajectory. Specialised blogging is, admittedly, rather foreign to me, which is why when my interest was sparked so early on in the semester, I knew there was something exciting happening in this aesthetic little corner of the internet.

When considering the initial concept, the name itself was perhaps most intriguing. Of course, there are many hundreds of bloggers out there, each attempting to create a unique path for themselves. Yet, somehow, the calming, minimalist aesthetic, paired with a name that was personalised and memorable, really appealed to me as a reader. Immediately, it felt as though I developed a personified attachment to the blog I was reading, a clever move in making oneself stand out amongst the rapidly expanding sphere of online blogging.

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The beautiful and simple banner on the homepage of Bec’s Bookshelf

Book reviews and related content is an interesting concept. Whilst it may seem technology is superseding the need for physical printing, I believe the desire for books, in particular fiction, will always be present.  I found this to be reflected in the Instagram feed for Bec’s Bookshelf, which really emphasised the tangible aesthetic of books and the act of reading; the comforting sentiment of curling up with a good book and a warm cup of tea.

However, this digital artefact wasn’t just about a blog – and the trajectory that materialised over semester through various media platforms undoubtedly enhanced the social utility of this project. Bec’s bookshelf began back in 2015, well before this university subject was even a consideration. Over time, she has effectively used multiple methodologies to expand her project across several platforms, and in doing so, has converted something that began as a hobby, into a professional portfolio of high quality and dynamic work.

Let’s consider the blog first. Over time and especially reading some of the earlier blog posts, I have noticed a significant improvement in the sophistication of Bec’s writing style and the organisation of the blog. This is very important, as it gives the blog a professional look and feel. The inclusion of connections to the blogging awards and nominations she has received are also very effective in solidifying this online portfolio. One thing I could recommend for improvement would be the inclusion of more links to external material within the writing. Considering the nature of this platform, I think it is important to use the features of a blog to the greatest potential. Some of the links she has included, which are fantastic, could be made a different colour font to make them stand out from the rest of the writing.

Typically, the feedback loop for a project such as this would be somewhat slow. Considering the time it takes to read a book, write a review and publish a polished piece of writing, the iterations cannot possibly occur rapidly and frequently. When looking at the “FIST” principle, this blog very much effectively addresses the “inexpensive, simple and tiny” components of a successful digital artefact. However the “fast” element was something I was initially apprehensive of.

Wisely, Bec has addressed this issue by experimenting with sharing content on other platforms which generally have a much faster feedback loop. As previously mentioned, she continued to develop her Instagram feed, which throughout semester took on a very distinguishable aesthetic. With 232 followers, I think this is successful progress, especially considering she has not used an outsourcing service to help with the management of the page. This, to me, indicates that there is a genuine audience out there for this type of content, and is definitely something that could be pursued further in the future. She mentioned in her beta presentation that her motivation to maintain the page towards the end of semester declined, which is understandable. Looking ahead, I would suggest the use of a site such as Fiverr, which for a small price can take a significant stress off the management role for a page. This will not only help you get more posts out to the community, but will increase the number of followers and interactions, making the feed look more appealing to an external viewer.

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Taken from the stunning Instagram feed

Meanwhile, Bec reported that other attempts at expanding to alternative platforms have not been as successful, but nevertheless were a good endeavour in bringing more traffic to the site. For example, Twitter was a place where she regularly posted reading updates and links to her own book reviews. She reported that it was unfortunately a little quiet, and other than keeping up with the authors and what they are doing, did not serve a great purpose. I feel as though Twitter should not be completely disregarded as a platform though, and could have potential if developed in the future. Looking at accessibility to authors, Twitter could be a great opportunity for Bec to gain a following and build a reputation with readers, with the hope of eventually gaining the attention of the authors she is reviewing. She could also consider sharing or retweeting content related to what she is writing, and interacting with other similar accounts. One in particular with a significant following is the Australian Book Review, who have just under 11 000 followers.

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The Twitter feed is beautifully coherent with the overall theme and aesthetic of the blog

Another platform she experimented with is Amazon book reviews, which I also am very unfamiliar with. By posting her reviews here, she very much furthered the utility of this project, as it meant that people who were considering buying a particular book had access to a review instantaneously. NetGalley and Goodreads were two other platforms where Bec contributed content, also furthering the social function and usefulness of the project.

All in all, this digital artefact is an exceptional example of how experimenting with multiple media platforms can further the reach and utility of a project. Whilst not all attempts have been as successful as others, the effort made to push the trajectory as far as possible has been both interesting and rewarding to witness. Through observation, I have learnt a lot about the potential for a project to grow, and have applied some of these skills to my own digital artefacts. At the end of the day, this is a project which can easily be continued and developed, and has lead the creation of a beautiful online portfolio of work which I believe will create many opportunities for Bec if she chooses to chase them. And to Bec; it’s been an absolute pleasure following along with this journey, I wish you nothing but the best for whatever may come next!

Published by susiealdermann

Fifth Year Bachelor of Communications and Media/ Bachelor of International Studies (Dean's Scholar) student

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