Thoughtful Ramblings

‘Thoughtful Ramblings’ is where we discuss bookish topics. One’s that have us all hot and bothered and we need a good rant to air our grievances or topics that have us all thoughtful and we just need to have a bit of a ramble…

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Bookish Fandoms: The Pros & Cons

Fan bases or “fandoms” are becoming a more and more stickier subject. Comparing the book industry and the music industry, they have Directioners (One Direction fans) or Belibers (Justin Bieber Fans) and the book industry has the equivalent. Here are a few to get the idea:

“Nerdfighters”: John and Hank Green and John’s books
“Potterheads”: The Harry Potter Series
“Twi-hards”: Twilight
“Demigods”: Percy Jackson Series
“Tributes”: The Hunger Games
“Brotherhood Without Banners”: Game of Thrones
“The Shadowhunters”: Cassandra Clare’s works

I am personally on the fence when it comes to this topic or being part of a fan base in general. I dip my toes in and get a feel for everyone there and jump straight back out again. Due to this happening constantly, I have decided to compile a list of of pros and cons when it comes to fan bases. If I can’t make my mind up, I might as well try and help you form an opinion on the matter.

PROS

Being part of a fan base is like having thousands of friends at once. It is like in life when you meet someone who enjoys the same books as you and you instantly make friends with them based on that mutual interest. Imagine doing this with thousands of people. There is a certain loyalty around it. This is something that may appeal to many.

Imagine having the same taste in books as thousands of others in a fan base. The likelihood is that one fellow fan may have read something that you may have not read. You know what that means? Ready made recommendations and even more reads that you will probably love. Which can’t be a bad thing (except for your piggy bank…)

If you look at the corporate side of things, it is no lie that the book industry is shrinking. Last year book sales fell over £70 million. If you take a fan base such as “The Shadow Hunters” who religiously buy each new edition of Cassie Clare’s works, think about how much money that must be generating. Whether you like fan bases or not, they have a huge impact on the book industry and sales.

My final pro is that fan bases can do good. Take “Nerdfighteria” for example. Every year they do Project for Awesome and this year they raised nearly $500,000 for chosen charities round the world. This is power in numbers used in the best way.

CONS

Power in numbers can be a great thing for society. But what if someone sparks a conflict with all those numbers. Some fan bases are just too powerful and this is quite a frightening concept. Take the “Beautiful Creatures” fan base, you would think that they would love the fact that their favourite series was getting made in to a movie? Wrong. They were the reason it didn’t work. Some fans blatantly refused to see it simply because of how different it was from the book. In short they helped destroy a franchise that was “set to be the next Twilight

Have you ever said anything bad about a book series? I sure have. Percy Jackson is one of my least favourite series of all time. I thought this would make a good tweet and the next thing I knew I had a pair of “Demigods” openly firing abuse at me. In short some fans’ fierce loyalty to their author knows no bounds and this means that people get insulted for merely stating their opinion. Who wants to be associated with that?

With the example above comes generalisation… People saying that all fan bases are the same and that the people within the fan base are the same. This is when insults are thrown around and “Twitter wars” commence. The obsessives within the group come out to play and the people who are there to have fun and share a mutual interest sit there watching and hanging their heads in shame.

My final point regarding the cons of fan bases is the fact that having such a deep obsession with something may be unhealthy. Think of being part of a bookish fan base and having to wait a year for the next instalment. All the speculation, all the complaining. Personally, it would drive me up the wall.

After weighing up all of the pros and cons, I am still unable to decide. Do you identify yourself with a fan base? If so, what elements do you enjoy the most about it? Do you think it is just a phase that people go through? Or, do you prefer to not associate yourself with fan bases, like me? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Alex

A devoted reader studying Spanish and Psychology at college. Favourite genres are all things YA and branching out into fantasy, thrillers and mysteries. (Alex no longer reviews for BCC).

14 Comments


Disneybookmama May 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Well I have to say that I don’t take part in a fanbase, simply because besides the books most of the time you have nothing in common with them. First of all I like to read YA books but being 29 myself that takes me out of the fanbase group because most of the time it are girls and boys much younger than me. It’s not that I don’t like younger people but I do believe that my life is so diffrent from them, I work, I have a little girl etc.
I do believe that the age of a fanbase can influence how they react to people saying bad things about the series they love. Look at all the Justin Bieber fans threatening every girl he dates. So I’m not a big fan of a fanbase.

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Alex May 20, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I agree with you when it comes to how the age of the fanbase correlates to how they react to a comment. I think fanbases, younger fan bases tend to have an expiry date for all that participate in it.

Just to put it out there, I despise the obsessive Justin Bieber fans… they make twitter a nightmare! :/

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Jackie B Central Texas (Jackie Burris) May 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm

:-( Fanbases are fine for those who enjoy “joining”, personally I am a loner when it comes to making up my own mind prefer to do so without being swayed by public opinion so as far as being caught up in media hype and being part of a fan group for a book, author, or their series than no that is not for me.

Sometimes moving to the beat of a different drum means just not worrying what everyone else thinks, if I like a particular book or I like a particular character or love an author’s entire works that is my personal choice and if someone else does not agree with me that is their privilege just like it is mine. :-)

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Alex May 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I agree! They really do seem to be for people who like the taking part. Like you, I also prefer to make my own mind up when it comes to reads. Having them thrust upon me is not fun at all :/

That is a fab point about liking books. I adore some books, but not to the extent where I obsess over them. Like I said above I find that incredibly unhealthy!

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Carolyn May 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I agree with Jackie totally. I’ve never followed trends or fan bases. I’ll always read what I want and not what others dictate. I find that sometimes when large groups of people get together with regards to books (especially YA) I find that opinions can become quite fanatical, which is definitely not for me. Great post!

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Alex May 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm

I tend to follow trends sometimes. Especially when it comes to dystopia.. there is so much out there past The Hunger Games... I find it so liberating just reading what I want when I want. I also agree about the fanatical opinions! They are definitely not for me either!
Thank you, Carolyn! :)

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Jane May 20, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I’ve been a moderately active member of various fandoms from time to time. I was a big Potter fan which I suppose was the last book fandom I was actively involved with and the age range of the readers I engaged with went from teens to much older than I was at the time.

Age doesn’t necessarily mean the fans are going to behave badly but there comes a point where fans can and do step over the line of what is acceptable.

I’ve thought about it long and hard because I’ve been involved in a number of fandoms over the years for TV shows and the problem comes when fandoms feel like the writers owe them something. Uh newsflash they don’t. The only obligation the writers have is to write the best story they can that pleases them the most, if a beloved character has to die to serve the dramatic impact of the story then so be it. Fans who wail and gnash their teeth and write ‘fixit fiction’ are missing the point. By all means mourn that character – spoiler alert – I still get a bit misty eyed over Sirius Black and pretty much the whole of the Deathly Hallows. Do I want JK Rowling to rewrite and make it happier? HELL NO!

Fans are brilliant, they are creative and wonderful because they engage with and love the books they read and the TV they watch, but when fans turn on the writers and they find they are not loving it anymore, that is the time for them to step away, fall in love with something else.

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Alex May 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I agree with you when it comes to fans crossing the line. Unfortunately is is something that happens quite frequently.

The fact that the Harry Potter fanbase has such as wide range of ages is testament to Rowling herself. I also agree with you when it comes to writers owing the people something. They do their best and they can’t please everyone. It is unfortunate when the writer gets insulted for writing a certain ending (Charlaine Harris has been getting death threats from her own fan base! :/)

Fan bases genuinely can be amazing so enthusiastic and creative :) Like you say though, when they turn on the writers, that is when it turns sour :)

Thank you for the comment, Jane! :) Some very valid points :)

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Ryan May 21, 2013 at 5:21 am

I think it’s safe to say, that I’m not a member of any fandom, though there are books I adore. Not sure I would be all that interested in participating even if my favorite books had such a base.

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Alex May 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm

I am not part of a fandom. Like you, I adore many books. But, I don’t think I could keep up with some fan bases :)

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Gemma May 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

I am a fan of many TV shows, Books, Movies, Bands, but I don’t buy into the whole Fandom thing. It is a double edged sword, like you say above in your post. For me, I have seen the effects of the “mob” mentality where one person dares to disagree with the majority of the other fans and is hounded by them. Yes, it may be the exception to the rule, but I have no interest in partaking in this.

Great post.

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Alex May 21, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I totally agree with the double edged sword comment. There are too many pros and cons for me to participate in them I think. It is true that there is more good fans than bad, but I still won’t take part in them.

Thank you! :)

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Bobby May 21, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I think it depends to what extent you take being in a fandom, but on balance I think fandoms tend to be, or at least become, a negative thing. They bring people together sure, and that’s good, but there always seems to end up being this mob mentality that takes over (even – or especially – over the internet) and causes people to say mean things to each other, and then others join in without even really knowing what’s going on. Also, I have found from the few forums that I have taken part in that fanbases tend to be really cliquey – even within themselves. They can turn on someone who doesn’t have exactly the same opinion as them within ten seconds flat, even if they were having a perfectly polite conversation with them moments ago. It seems odd, then, that they can also turn so quickly on the person who has created the world of which they are a fan.
This isn’t to say that people who are fans are all like this – or even all people who associate themselves strongly with a fanbase, – I just think there is something that takes over you when you are part of a group like that and it affects everyone to some degree.
This is a really great discussion post – very thought provoking. I could have rambled on for hours in my comment, but I think you pretty much summed everything up. It really is a personal choice as to whether you think fanbases are a good thing, but I will always try to stay well clear.

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Alex May 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

I think it really does. It is a shame that some of the time it turns our sour from something that started off so good.

I agree on what you say about about them turning so quickly. They can be very volatile at times! :/

I think, especially in the news, once one person portrays themselves as aggressive an obsessive, the rest of the fanbase are seen in the same negative light. Like everything else, it is a shame really :/

Thank you, Bobby! I also could have gone on for ages! I also tend to stay away nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot a friends that are in fanbases, but when they ask if I am part of one, I just say no. :)

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