Around this time of the year, our Goodreads page gets a revamp to get us to vote in their awards. It makes sense: after all, it’s almost the end of 2018 (well, kind of). The Goodreads Choice Award is just one of the many that urges bookworms like us to vote. But should we?
Back in my younger days (she says, pretending she’s very old and wise now), I used to religiously vote for the Goodreads Choice Award. They were so much fun! I got to be involved in choosing a winning book! Me! A thirteen-year-old girl!!!
So what changed? Why do I not even pay attention to the outcome of the Goodreads Choice Awards anymore? What made so cynical?
Well… I understood that I was voting for books simply because they have a pretty cover. When you’re given so much to choose from, it’s very hard to not be overwhelmed. The synopsis all sounded interesting, too! So it all boiled down to: “which book has the prettiest cover?
I’m all for judging books for their cover in certain situations. When I’m in the bookstore or perusing the shelves of the library, I’m obviously drawn to some titles. I admit it, I’m a pawn at the hands of publishing houses. Dangle a shiny and beautifully illustrated cover and I’m like a child in a candy store.
I don’t think there’s anything bad in this. It’s just the way things are and that’s completely fine! But when it comes to awarding books, that’s a whole different story. Picking a book because of its covers is completely neglecting the content (and merit) of other books. It’s denying that author to not have a fair chance simply because the publishing house decided to go with a cover design I’m not fond of…
I loved these books, but they all have hideous covers! If I had been influenced by their (ugly) covers, I would have never gotten the chance to dive deep into these stories…
Plus, I never even read most of the books nominated for the awards! It sounds so silly and obvious to say a judge has to have read all competition entries, but to me that wasn’t that clear. How could I be choosing my favorite book in the young-adult category if I hadn’t read 90% of them? Sadly, that’s exactly what I did.
To me, the Goodreads Choice Awards are bittersweet. On one hand, I love the fact that readers are involved in the choosing process. It makes the reader take up a more central and important position in the bookish world. You don’t need to have any literature degrees to judge books (look at most bloggers!)
But on the other hand, the Goodreads Choice Awards are just a popularity contest. A book written by a hyper-popular author that has a very good cover is much more likely to win than a book written by a debuting writer whose publisher didn’t invest as much on the cover design. And this completely disregards their content and their quality.
It’s more than enough, in my opinion, for some books to sell better than other because the marketing campaign worked well. But having a book win an award simply because of this is taking it a step too far.
Do you vote in the Goodreads Choice Awards? What do you think of the selection process? Do you agree with my points? I’d love to hear your thoughts!