When people ask me what´s it like to be in the book blog community I always give the same answer:
Because it is. Sure, it´s great fun to mingle with the book crowd and read/review and “research” on social media… There´s always something new happening in the book blog universe. Just recently I stumbled upon something that caught my bookish attention. A site called Book Trigger Warnings.
Book Trigger Warnings is a site that´s dedicated to readers who´re looking for `safe` books to read.
In theory, not a bad idea. Some readers are sensitive / get triggered when reading potentially distressing material. Also, this idea offers insensitive readers, who´re looking for specific triggering elements, a way to feed their needs. The site can be seen as a win/win for both reader parties.
In practice, though… This won´t be a simple thing to manage. Especially in a world where close to everything can be considered a trigger.
I won´t lie- I have mixed feelings about this site or any other site that promises `safe` options. I also don´t see the word `safe` anywhere near books. I can´t say I´ve met an author whose first priority was to write a safe book.
I accept a reader´s wish to want to read books that won´t trigger them. But where does the trigger list start and end?
Another concern of mine is: Most books already have trigger warnings. These are often included in online book descriptions ( either provided by a publisher or author ) or inside books. To include more trigger warnings would mean to reveal more information about the story. From my point of view, this means we´re moving further away from trigger warnings and closer toward spoilers. Not that I have anything against spoilers ( spoiler fan here ) but there are people who´ll literally threaten others if they mention more than what´s been printed on the backside of a book.
I can´t help but think about what book trigger warning sites do for authors / self-published authors ( or won´t do ). It´s no secret that most are already struggling with the trigger topic. Because trigger warnings influence sales.
- Add no trigger warnings = Some readers could get triggered
- Add a few warnings = Some readers will be triggered
- Add a generalized warning = Some readers will be triggered
- Add any/all potential topic as a warning = Some readers will be triggered
A triggered reader will most likely leave a negative review. Negative reviews have the power to persuade potential buyers. So, an author is convinced they have to include trigger warnings for their books to not jeopardize their book sales. So far so good. But what if I told you that half of the triggered population isn´t genuinely triggered? Maybe they just don´t approve of certain elements in stories and demand to be warned?
The bottom line of all the points mentioned above is: Whatever happens, there will be triggered people. And there will be negative reviews. These can´t be avoided no matter what.
I applaud the people managing Book Trigger Warnings and wanting to provide safe reading experiences for their followers. It’s a genuine concept that targets a certain crowd. But I´m having a hard time wrapping my head around this topic.
We´re living in a world where people aren´t satisfied with walking away from something they don´t enjoy/like/approve of. The sole purpose of a book has always been to educate and entertain readers. By creating lists with `safe` reading options we´re helping readers stay in their comfort zones and unconsciously pressuring self-published authors to rethink their ideas for their future stories/to work harder on including the right trigger warnings.
Non-fiction can be a challenging genre for some readers. For readers who genuinely become emotionally distressed- I think the Book Trigger Warnings site could be helpful. It could also work the other way around for readers who live for emotional wreckage. But I truly believe many will misuse the site and that will take its toll on the publishing and self-publishing world.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about this topic. But then again, there is no right or wrong when it comes to trigger warnings. It all depends on the individual reader.
Despite my mixed feelings, I wish Book Trigger Warnings all the success, love, and chocolate cake in the world. May their site be as helpful as they hope it will be.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree. ❤
Sending everyone lots of book love!
Have a wonderful day,