Bookish Discussion

{Getting Wordy} Do Books Have an Expiration Date?

As book bloggers, many of us are guilty of prioritizing new releases. Even if you don’t request, and/or receive review copies, seeing them everywhere in the blogosphere can and, from the publisher’s point of view, is supposed to make you want to buy and read them. Of course, I’m generalizing here – I know multiple bloggers who purposely prioritize older titles – but I, for one, am always tempted by those shiny new books.

Belle from Beauty and the Beast hugging a book to herself, while the Beast watches her.

While this can result in ignoring older titles, I don’t believe being hyped for new releases is a bad thing. In fact, many bloggers I respect and love dedicate considerable amount of their time to reading and reviewing new releases, and I’ve found many-many titles I’ve fallen in love with thanks to them.

New books, especially those that are not promoted heavily by their publisher, deserve our support just as much as (or even more than) older books do.

After all, how an author’s debut performs can drastically influence their career, not to mention that hitting a bestseller list – like USA Today’s or the New York Times’ – is a big deal for authors.

With that being said, we shouldn’t forget about older titles. What I’m afraid of, and I’ve seen, is that we’ve come to view books as though they have an expiration date. That might sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but hear me out! How many times have you caught yourself saying something along the lines of “it’s an older book, but I’m enjoying it” as if you had to justify enjoying something that’s a few years old? I sure as hell do this, and while there are valid reasons for this, it’s also concerning.

So, why does it make sense to concentrate on newer titles?

1 – publishing has become more diverse in the last few years – many Own Voices* books and authors are getting the promo and opportunities they deserve. We still have a long way to go, but there’s been an improvement, and so it makes sense to prioritize these titles instead of non-diverse books of the past.

2 – problematic content is oftentimes called out, and there are authors, admittedly not all, who listen to the critics and make the necessary changes in their books. There was a lot that could quietly fly under the radar 5-10 years ago that would be challenged today, particularly within Young Adult books; aka what many-many bloggers in the community concentrate on.

3 – if I’m honest there’s a huge difference between the experience if you read newer books, and older books. I’ve seen many bloggers mentions that ARC reviews, or reviews of new releases tend to gain more attention than posts about backlist titles, and I’ve experienced this as well. (Even so, this is NOT a general rule at all!)

4 – There are a lot of perks to reading, say, an on-going popular series, such as being able to (1) buy bookish things related to it, (2) come across related content, e.g. fan art and fanfiction, (3) find fans who are also enjoying the heck out of this thing. Not to mention that authors tend to talk a lot about their recent works – in interviews, in podcasts and on social media. Of course most of this doesn’t disappear a few years after a novel is published, but there’s something so fun about reading a book/series when it’s at the height of its popularity.

Where does this leave us?

I set out with a very clear idea of what I wanted this post to be like, and I kind of failed – instead of talking about backlist titles, all I did was point out why I think it’s cool to read new books.

Eleanor from The Good Place saying "Ah, shirt."

In my defense, this is a really interesting, broad topic – I could go into detail about classics, or even modern classics; titles prove that no, books do not have an expiration date. But then again, these are the exceptions, aren’t they? Lots of books are forgotten, or are treated as old relics even from a few years ago, which makes me sad.

Bottom line is, I think we should try to give more attention to older books, particularly older books that (1) didn’t garner that much popularity when they were published, (2) were diverse stories, written by diverse authors before publishers realized they should market these books, as well. (I mean, publishers are still bloody awful at promo many times, buuut… it seems it was even worse in the past?? Unbelievable.)

Let’s chat!

Do you think books have an expiration date? Why/Why not? What are your favorite diverse backlist reads?

47 thoughts on “{Getting Wordy} Do Books Have an Expiration Date?

  1. I think what bloggers perceive as “older” titles can offer differ radically from what the general public thinks an older book is. After all, the average reader probably doesn’t follow the book market or even really know what year a book was published. They also have no incentive and/or pressure to read only new books because they aren’t trying to get followers or views based on what they read. And they might possibly read less, meaning that they need more time to get to books that book bloggers all read in one year.

    However, the general public buying books two or three or five years after their release is arguably what keeps books and authors in the “popular” category rather than the “five minutes of fame” category. For instance, The Hate U Give was still going strong at the library last I checked, in part because the book ended up on school lists and reading club lists. Books bloggers don’t really talk about The Hate U Give anymore, though, because it’s three years old and that qualifies as ancient history in the blogosphere. They’ve moved on to other things.

    Age isn’t what makes a book good or bad, however. If The Hate U Give was phenomenal three years ago, I would argue it’s still worth reading now. I think it’s a shame book bloggers sometimes seem to feel pressure to keep up with all the new releases and not revisit older works. On my blog, at least, reviews of older books get more interaction than new releases and ARC reviews because people generally want to have read the book before they can comment. Reviewing a book two weeks after its release doesn’t work well for our audience because they’re not reading everything the day it comes out. ARC reviews fare even worse than reviews of new releases.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I definitely agree with that! As a blogger, we see so many new releases every week, and – like you said – there is a pressure to read new books. Not to mention, when everyone is talking about new books, I think it’s only natural to grow curious and push those titles forward, while we push backlist back.

      Oh yes, The Hate U Give is a wonderful example! I still see it pop up sometimes, but very very rarely, while I think it’s still on the bestseller list. I agree, it’s for sure still a phenomenal book. I think what I’ve seen with us – although I rarely review these days, haha – is that ARCs and new releases can do well in terms of views, but the comments are better with older titles.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very interest topic. I have found recently with my buying ban that I am reading more and more backlist titles and I do think that there are a lot of gems in the past. Yes, there are more problematic books and moments but there is a lot of wisdom to be found there too. And backlist doesn’t have to be classics, it can be books published just last year. I do like my new releases too but I am quick to get overwhelmed as I can’t keep up often, and sometimes the hype is just too intense. I do like a healthy mix of both backlist and new releases ideally.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I admit I had to think for a bit before commenting. Personally, I like to read mix of older and newer reads. I like stepping back from the hype and cosying into a corner with an older book. While reading newer books is important for book bloggers, the sale of older books are very helpful to the mid-list authors. Mid-list authors often don’t get as much publicity as debut authors, so I think it’s about finding the balance and choosing which authors (new and old) you want to support.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was such an interesting postβ€”I feel like you put an unformed idea that had been in my mind into words 🀯!
    Since I started blogging, I definitely feel like books have an expiration date because of the reasons you mentioned. I used to agonize over reading all of the new, hyped titles before I admitted that I’m too much of a mood reader to keep up with what’s hot. Nowadays, I try to read whatever. It’s fun discovering and sharing an old gem from the library. It is a bit disappointing that the review will probably have a lower reach though πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ.
    Awesome discussion, Veronika πŸ™‚! (loved The Good Place gif btw πŸ˜‚πŸ’―)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I’m happy you felt that way! πŸ™‚
      I definitely relate to being a mood reader – I can also feel so pressured and stressed when I *have to* read a book, so I don’t request ARCs anymore, nor do I accept review request. I just never got around to them, which is obviously not ideal and unfair to the author. It’s better to pick from whatever is available to me and doesn’t need to be read RIGHT NOW.

      Thank you!! Ahh, I love The Good Place so much. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When reading this post, I immediately thought of the amount of books I have had on my shelf for a whole that I still haven’t touched. And yet, I will go out and buy newer book! Books certainly don’t have an expiration date. I think for me at least, it’s just a matter of giving older books a chance and going on a book buying ban until I am caught up lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a good post.

    I don’t tend to have the time to read books until they’ve been out for a while, so most of the ones I review aren’t brand new. It would definitely be nice to see more reviews of older titles in the book community.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Almost all of the books I read are old, so I’m a huge fan of the backlist! I often wait for the hype to die down before reading a super-popular book. That way, I don’t have a thousand screaming reviewers’ voices in my head while I’m reading. For me, books don’t have an expiration date. I’m not worried about keeping up with the new popular books. I just read what I want.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I tend to pick up truly hyped books I’m interested in closely after the pub date, just because I’m not a patient person, haha. Anything I’m not very interested in initially, i.e. the hype is what makes me want to read it, I’ll usually wait to read. I agree with you, I tend to read what I want. πŸ˜€


  8. Ah… this is such an interesting topic and I think you talked about it really well.
    Older books definitely don’t have the same buzz around the online book community as everyone is excited about new releases so the olders ones almost get brushed away and like you said they can be valid reasons because of the excitement around new releases and the fact that some older books are problematic and feels old as styles and trends have moved on. (I mean once you read one bad old book, it is like all old books are suddenly bad and can’t be read anymore, haha).
    I can be guilty of this too as I love reading new books and constantly hearing about lots of different ones I must read so it puts the old ones on the backburner but there are some great old books out there who still deserve a lot of love and my time.
    Great post!! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚
      I definitely agree!! You read one bad, and then expect the rest to be bad as well. Not to mention that I think some of us have experienced looking back at an old favorite and realizing that we wouldn’t like it today. And so we might assume that anything published around that time, particularly aimed at the same age group, of the same genre might be just as bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I personally have been pushing myself to read more backlist. Yes, it’s true people are more interested in reading reviews for new books, BUT if you pick the right backlist book, you can get just as many views. If the book was popular at some point, a lot of people may have read it, and therefore, they have something to say about the book. That has happened quite a bit for me. I also will read an ARC and an older book by the same author. Featuring them together seems to work well, if people have read the author before.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have really gone back to reading older titles for a lot of reasons. Hype for new titles that don’t really pan out once I read them, money considerations – I borrow from the library much more now and that means long holds for newer titles, and I’ve been concentrating on clearing out my (older book) physical TBR pile.

    Having said that, I don’t think it’s wrong to stick with newer or even hyped books. It’s a fickle business and today’s hyped author can be gone in an instant if their book doesn’t sell well.

    So I balance them out now. I accept a few new/review titles a month and read several older titles. Whatever works!

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to clean up my physical (and, tbh, digital tbr) so I’m planning on reading more backlist this year. Tbh, I’ve read like, two 2020 releases so far this year, which is a bit surprising. I used to read SO MANY new releases.

      I agree 10000%, and yes, balance is important – I think there’s a lot of good to take away from backlist titles and new releases both.


  11. “Lots of books are forgotten, or are treated as old relics even from a few years ago, which makes me sad.”
    You know how I feel about this, what with my blog mainly focussing on older/not really popular/unheard of books to begin with πŸ˜‚. I especially agree on your first two points about newer books, but to answer your question…on one hand, books don’t – and should not – have an expiration date…that would be tragic! But on the other hand, while everyone says so, the same people are more often than not distracted by shiny new books and rarely, if ever, read older ones. I think that, in our heart, we all abhor the “expiration date” concept, but most of us have to consciously make an effort to go back and read older books (even from last year!), or to really pay attention to reviews that point at them. Also because most people seem to enjoy reading reviews of books they have already read, so they can discuss them – which, let’s be blunt, it’s not the main purpose of reviews LOL.

    Bottom line: books don’t have an expiration date for me. And I will forever make a point of giving them a spotlight, pageviews be damned.

    BTW, I bookmarked this discussion for my next Tooting Your Trumpet installment 😊.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes, I knew you’d have something to say about this topic! I think you’re right, it IS very easy to get distracted by shiny, new books, particularly when most blogs discuss those. So it ultimately depends on us what we choose to read, and we do have to make an effort to (also) read backlist titles – or to ultimately read whatever we are interested in, and not be overwhelmed by others and the hype.

      Thank you so much, Roberta! πŸ™‚


  12. Interestingly, I feel I get far more views for my reviews of older titles than when I take on a new release. I wrote a discussion post about that a while ago. So I have tended to move away from new release reviews, although I would like to think my post might help out the author of a book I really like. It’s true that how a book does in the first few months is crucial, although I think that is a pity. I wish we could allow more time for books to find their audience and not rely on instant hype.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I get more views for newer books, but more comments for older ones. Although truly hyped older books tend to do really well on the blog. I wrote a discussion about the romance in Shadow and Bone and that was something lots of people enjoyed and shared, which made me so happy. πŸ™‚ Yes, it’s such a pity that success is measured in a short amount of time. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I like having a mix! I like to read new releases for many reasons (some you listed) but at the same time, there are many books that I never got to in the past that I desperately want to. Especially, book series. I have a habit of buying books in a series I’m convinced I’ll love but not reading them until the series is complete… That means when I start, the early books are pretty old but I’m not sorry, lol.

    People need to just focus on what makes them happy and match their blogging ambitions (for the new books DO garner more attention). πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love reading series all at once! It’s one of the reasons why I started to turn back to backlist novels a couple of years ago – I was impatient and didn’t want to wait for the books in a series, I just wanted to pick up something completed.

      Definitely agree with you! We all should read what we enjoy, I think. πŸ™‚


  14. Ah this is such an interesting and relevant post, I love it so much. I never used to think of books as “old” or “new” before I started blogging and really got into the whole new releases and be-part-of-the-hype in the moment kind of thing. And it’s true: because of that, I feel like, when I’m reading a book “late”, and ,it can be, like, a 2019 release now (!! which is really !!!!), i feel like apologizing for getting into the hype “late”. Which makes no sense at all; Books have no expiration date, they’re just less talked about than they used to right around their release. I really need to remember that! πŸ™‚
    Loved this post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! πŸ™‚ Same for me – it all started with blogging. It’s like, even if I’m not trying to concentrate on new releases, I keep seeing them everywhere, and obviously, I’ll be curious and end up picking the new, currently hyped ones up. Yes, even 2019 is “backlist” which is so weird, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES exactly! It’s funny how “old” is… well, fairly recent when you think about it. Books become “old” too quickly for us bloggers ahah. It makes me a bit sad!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Great discussion, I totally see what you mean about newer titles getting all the attention– i personally love when I find an underrated older book that no one is talking about! Im like yesss hidden gem alert!! Great post πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love this post! I’m constantly questioning how long I can hold on to a book until I think I don’t “need” to read it anymore. Especially since I want to break into the publishing industry, I’m bombarded by people in the industry’s advice that it’s best to keep up with the new releases — not only are they “of the times”, but they can also foresee the future of where book publishing can head to. I’ve always been someone who’s late to any and all trends — I may hear about it, but it may take me a while to see why it’s trendy + if I’ll actually adhere to it or not. With that being said, I’ve gotten a hold of YA titles from only five – seven years back and once I’m finished reading it, my immediate thoughts are, “Wow, this would not be successful in the landscape of books now.” Does that make it a bad book? Not necessarily, but it can be a time capsule of when that book was published, and sometimes that may not always be the grabber that keeps a reader interested.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! It’s interesting to hear someone’s thoughts who wants to break into the publishing industry. πŸ™‚ I feel like trends are changing so fast, like what we saw with dystopian novels. They were all the rage a few years back, and today I barely see any dystopian releases, and the ones I do are ignored by the masses. (E.g. Want by Cindy Pon is great, and it’s pretty important/actual in today’s world.) I’ve just seen that Netflix is making The Selection into a show, and while I ADORED The Selection when I originally read it, I’m not sure it has stood the test of time. So it seems like a weird decision, but then again, I felt the same way regarding Shadow and Bone. I’m confused by this new trend of adapting old YA, and I’m curious to see if they hold up today as tv shows.


  17. I think I have a pretty good mix of backlist and semi-new releases that I read. I relied very heavily on libraries when I first started blogging and the wait-list for new releases is always sooooooo long so any new releases I read were usually whatever ARCs I could get my hands on which were never really the super hyped ones.

    Now I allow myself to buy new releases that I desperately want to read but I’ve always been terrible at actually reading new releases that I buy, I get distracted too easily so I still read mostly backlist books (when I’ve not over-requested ARCs).

    I will say that I do tend to avoid much older books. Anything before the early 2000s I tend not to enjoy and I have found don’t usually age well and there are too many things that bug me or a offensive that books used to be able to get away with that they wouldn’t be able to now. I don’t want to read those books. So in that regard I can see how a book could be considered to have an ‘expiration date’.

    But some of my most favourite books have been backlist reads for me! Like I’m only just reading the Percy Jackson series for the first time and loving it, and I was late to The Raven Cycle and I’m in love with that series. I’m usually late to all the super popular books but I’m okay with that because then I’m never alone in my love foe those books, there’s already an established community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to balance them for sure, although weirdly, this year I’ve only read a few new releases. (Although, it is still the first half of the year AND a lot of pub dates are being pushed back right now, so I expect this will change.)

      I definitely relate to buying and then not reading new releases. I tend to read a lot of recent backlist, i.e. titles from the previous 1-3 years, because I buy them and then ignore them. πŸ™ˆ

      I definitely agree – I do read classics, which can be offensive and problematic as hell, but I try to avoid those – but I don’t really read non-classics that were published pre-2000. Even the 2000s can feel dated, to the extent that, when I was reading an early 2000s Paranormal Romance, I was genuinely surprised by its feminist undertones, as lots of titles from the 2000s tend to be quite sexist.

      I was late to the Percy Jackson party – the spin-off was nearly finished when I got to the original books – and I LOVED those books, oh my god! I also love The Raven Cycle, though I caught up on that series as it was being published. I’m happy you enjoyed both. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeeessss exactly. I’ve got whole series of books waiting to be read, that I read the first book for and then bought the rest of books as they came out because I knew I’d love them but like…I’m not ready yet. I have to wait for the perfect time to read them hahaha.

        Yeah, to read early 2000’s books I really gotta look into them and read more recent reviews so that I know if there’s anything in them that would have not been picked up on earlier. God, I’ve been watching old 2000s from com faves and wow. I really was clueless huh ahah

        So good! Now I just need to find it in me to write my reviews for all TRC because oh god I’ve been putting it off for so long because I don’t think I can do it justice ahah

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m very guilty of shiny new books! I don’t buy them since a lot of my funds are all dedicated to adulting and tuition but I notice a lot of the books I do read now are recent releases, or relatively new releases (and even the ones I do get from the library).

    I agree with the first point for sure – publishing has become more diverse in the last few years. A lot of OwnVoices books are interesting and they pique my interest a lot more (even though there are a few OwnVoices from the past, there’s not much, unfortunately).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly – I feel like it’s fair to want to support and be more excited for OwnVoices books, which are coming out in bigger numbers these day. And yes, there were definitely far fewer a couple of years ago, plus even the ones that existed are harder to find a lot of the times.

      Liked by 1 person

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