Changes to this blog/newsletter in 2022
It's been three years since my blog transitioned from A Daily Dose of Architecture to A Daily Dose of Architecture Books, focusing exclusively on reviews of architecture books. After three fairly solid years of (almost) daily blogging, with more than 500 book reviews, I've decided to make changes to this blog, mainly paring down the load so I can present fewer books with deeper reviews and focus on other projects. So starting today, January 2, 2022, this blog is becoming A Weekly Dose of Architecture Books. Why?
First, though not first in order of priority, this blog has seen a significant drop in readership over those three years. While I'm not one to keep track of the Google Analytics on this blog, recent changes in Blogger, which is run by Google, have placed stats front and center in the backend, making me aware of the few clicks coming to this blog every time I work on a new post or edit an old one. This drop might be due to architecture books being very niche or that people now gravitate to social media — who knows. Even though this blog is a labor of love, as the familiar saying goes, it's deflating to put so much time into it and be confronted with dwindling numbers every day.
Second, even though I'm not trying to earn a living from this blog, the reduced numbers equate to very little compensation for my time in the way of money. This blog has two sources of revenue: banner ads and referral links. Neither are lucrative for a blog with around 11,000 monthly visitors (there were six times as many before the switch to books). To give an honest assessment of monetary returns, the banner ads, run by Google AdSense, end up being around just $15 per month. (I'm toying with removing the ads, to clean up the site's appearance and performance, given that certain ad settings don't work with this blog's template, but I have not decided on that yet.) The referral links — the buttons and other links pointing to Amazon, AbeBooks, Bookshop, and IndieBound — vary dramatically from website to website: at the high end, earnings from Amazon averaged around $40/month in 2021; I made $50 from AbeBooks over the last three years; I earned $30 from Bookshop since signing up with them last year; and commissions at IndieBound over the last three years now total $10.
Third, somewhat related to the first, concerns email subscriptions. Earlier this year Google removed email subscriptions from FeedBurner, which I'd used for a long time, necessitating me to find a replacement service for email notifications. I opted for Substack, since it's free but also offers paid tiers, something I may opt for in the future to address number two above (that's doubtful though). The shift to Substack made me even more cognizant of (falling) numbers, something I was not aware of previously with FeedBurner, which was automated and therefore made me blissful in my ignorance. With Substack, every week I login to set up a newsletter, the stats for the previous newsletter are staring at me: ~2,500 subscribers, a 15% opening rate (25% in just the last couple of weeks, a nice, but rare statistical improvement on this blog), and 6% of openers (or just 22 of 375 people) clicking a link. For all I know, such stats are good or at least average, but seeing them doesn't put a smile on may face — unlike the occasional email from readers with kind words and/or other comments.
Fourth, and probably most important, is that the (almost) daily rate of book reviews has meant it's impossible for me to read the books from cover to cover, in turn pushing me to provide "commentary" rather than full-blown reviews on the books I do feature. That pace is a bit much at times, and many books I wanted to delve into at much more length — both in reading and writing — were bumped by the next book in my daily queue. So going back to the weekly format that launched this blog back in 1999 makes a lot of sense to me now, so that I can read more of the books at length and have more to say about them. In turn, this plan will result in me being more selective about which books I feature, given that there will only be around fifty posts in a given year, not two hundred or more.
Fifth, wanting to focus on other projects outside of this "labor of love," I'm planning on winding down this blog over the next two years, wrapping it up in January 2024. Not an arbitrary date, that will be exactly 25 years after I started A Weekly Dose of Architecture, a side project that inadvertently ballooned into much more in the ensuing years. With a fondness for fives (there are even five bullet points here!), squared numbers, and circular narratives, it seems right to make "Archidose" a 25-year project that beginning and ending with "doses" at weekly intervals. Until then, you can continue to see book reviews on this blog and notifications about them in the form of a newsletter, perhaps with other small changes added along the way.