Authors and Libraries on Tumblr

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Tumblr,as I’m sure many of its users do. As stated on the Tumblr community guidelines page, Tumblr “celebrates creativity. We want you to express yourself freely and use Tumblr to reflect who you are, and what you love, think, witness, and believe.”  The website was created in February 2007 and currently hosts an estimated 93.1 million blogs, including the blogs of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama.

I have recently returned to using Tumblr after a year hiatus. The site can become overwhelming.  Your Dashboard shows every post that has been posted by you and the users that you follow since you last visited the site in an endless scroll.  This means that if you follow 20 people who post often and don’t visit the site for several hours, you likely have hundreds of new posts to view.  It doesn’t help that a lot of posts can be childish jokes or just a picture of that one actor in that one movie, and OMG isn’t he hot?

But the other side of Tumblr can actually be a great place for authors to connect with their fanbase.  For instance, I follow John Green, author of young adult novels and a youtube star, on Tumblr.  John Green is a master at using social media to connect with his fanbase.  On Tumblr, he answers fan questions, reblogs fantastic fanart based on his books, and post random things that he finds funny with added commentary written by him.  All of these actions serve to help his fans feel like they are important and that he appreciate them.

I feel that this is a model that more authors, especially young adult and children’s authors, should follow.  While most authors have their own website, it is more welcoming to young fans to be able to get to know their favorite authors via a social forum they already use, such as Tumblr, which is much more interactive than the usual author website.

Libraries can also reach out to the younger generation this way, by posting book recommendations and trivia.  It would also be a good forum for the library to get ideas on what programs and events people want to see at their local library.  It would be good to see the slower world of books and libraries get caught up in the faster pop-culture world of Tumblr.



(Here’s a link in which John green talks about how Tumblr connected him to fans on 2 different continents to collaborate on making a poster based on of his books a reality:


3 thoughts on “Authors and Libraries on Tumblr

  1. Christy Confetti Higgins

    Hi Erin – this is fantastic! I watched the video you included from author John Green – wow – just wow. His story is a great example about the power of social media and what we can learn and how we can connect with people all over the world. As an author, how would he have even learned of his readers drawing on another continent. Thanks for sharing this example of how authors can connect with readers through Tumblr and the power of that.

  2. kallie

    Wow that video was something. I agree with Christy that it definitely demonstrates the power of social media, but in terms of copyright law, social media seems to be a recipe for either awesomeness or disaster. As John Green said (paraphrased), “International Copyright law isn’t ready to handle this.” It’s great John Green is so cool about his fans and their creative “mash-ups” of his ideas, but he seems generally cooler than most and I don’t know if others will be that accepting.
    On to Tumblr. My only experience with Tumblr has been through people who use it kind of as a blogging tool – or that’s not the right term, but what they produce looks like a blog. Texts from Hillary (hysterical) and Suri’s Burn Book are the only times I’ve every really seen Tumblr used. John Green’s page looks nothing like this. To me it kind of seems like a pinterest page for videos, pictures, words that are interesting. It’s fun to look at and I guess if you follow cool people (like on Twitter) you would see and learn about lots of cool things. Do the entries appear on screen in the order that they’re entered? How do you find something you liked again easily? I definitely need to play around with it some more.
    Would you recommend libraries use this instead of a facebook page or in addition to one? Which makes me ask – how much social media is too much? How many sites should an organization be involved with.
    Thanks for sharing because I really never explored Tumblr before.

    1. Christy Confetti Higgins

      Hi Kallie – great questions about “how much social media is too much?” I think it will depend on your audience and what you have to share, what type of community you need/want etc. regarding what tools are right at the time. Giving things a try, asking your users, and being open to seeing what works is important.


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