Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Blogger Liberation

I've been sitting here humming and hawing over what to blog for the majority of my lunch hour. I've weighed the pros and cons of blogging about how disappointed I was with the crap streaming in from this year's BEA Bloggers Conference (SO not for book bloggers). I shot off an e-mail to Heather that said...
I don't like book blogging today. I'm sick of publishers. Sick of the arguing about whether e-books are the downfall of civilization.
That's right, kids. I don't give a damn about Richard Russo's latest e-book issues.  Nor do I care if publishers ever send me another advanced reader copy of anything (I'll buy it if I want it bad enough). I also will never feel pressured to pimp my blog.


After seven years of book blogging I'm liberating myself from influence and pressure in a way I've not done before. Because I was afraid this blog wouldn't be relevant if I withdrew MORE. But the beauty of it is, one can become more independent from publishers, authors, and guided reading without losing anything. I've been saying this for years, but I haven't really DONE IT until now.

And there's no use complaining if you're not gonna do something about it. Which we are. So sit tight because it's still taking shape. And it's going to rock your face off.

In the meantime...

  • I no longer have a review policy because I really don't need one.
  • Kiss my stats.
  • Read whatever, whenever.

Shuck off your readerly bonds, people!

113 comments:

  1. Well said, Andi! Nothing wrong with choosing to be a part of the book industry, but you don't NEED to be involved in order to have a relevant, meaningful, enjoyable blog.

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    1. Ana, exactly. And for me it's much easier, simplified, and enjoyable. Sounds good to me!

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  2. *rebel yell* Woo hoo! *applauds*

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    1. I knew I could count on you for a yell!

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  3. I love it!

    I hope you start a blogging revolution. I need to step away from Netgalley, although I've already learned not to care about stats. I don't give a damn about how many people are reading my blog, as long as I've connected with a good group of people.

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    1. Sam, I shall try my best! Good group of people is the key. That's what makes blogging fantabulous.

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  4. I blog as a hobby, and though I do participate in the odd book tour, I generally write about books I purchase myself (and given the state of my to-read shelves, I don't always post a review near the release date).
    I enjoyed your post -- it makes me feel better to be a "casual" blogger.

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    1. Sue, me too but I'm even become far less interested in blog tours, sadly. I've started writing about books I purchase myself almost exclusively. And cheers for "casual" blogging!

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  5. Excellent post! I think sometimes I lose track of why I blog- not to impress others, or follow dozens of rules, but because I love books, and I love to share them. Thanks for your encouragement.

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    1. Thanks so much! It is easy to lose track sometimes and my feelings on this are to encourage others to "just do it because you love it." I need the reminder myself quite often.

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  6. I was very, very recently referred to your blog, and I am all excited to see this rebellious post right away :)

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    1. Well thank you, Angela! I'm glad you decided to come on over, and you caught me in one of my outspoken moments.

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  7. congratulations!
    I tend to stay away from big-hype books, because I have often noticed they were not well written enough according to my own standards. So apart from writers I enjoy a lot, I tend to wait and see what trustful bloggers would say before I jump. I may wait a month, 6 months, a year before reading something so famous and hot? who cares? there are so many other great books to read in between and to share with my faithful followers.

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    1. I've been going through a weird reading phase. I like well written but I've been more interested in plot as of late just to keep me reading SOMETHING, ANYTHING. Thus, Fifty Shades trilogy. Then I started thinking and part of my shucking off responsibility is also shucking off expectations I've imposed upon myself. I was mildly ashamed to have read Fifty Shades and then I realized how stupid it is to be ashamed of reading anything! For whatever reason I needed to read those books to keep me entertained during a tough, stressful few weeks and that's OK. It's as good a reason to read as any other. Changing times call for changing book choices and I never want to be so restricted as to not recognize and honor those reading moods.

      Long answer! Ha!

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  8. Yep! This is exactly what I did late last summer. My blog may be smaller now, but I don't frickin' care! I feel so much freer!

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    1. Right on, Amanda! It does feel fantastic not to have to live up to anything. It feels good to be community and reading focused, not pressure or achievement focused.

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  9. We talked about this on Twitter, but I wanted to comment, too, and say I hope this turns out to be very freeing for you!!

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    1. So far so good, Kailana! Enjoyed the Twitter convo!

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  10. Next thing we know you'll be running naked through the streets! ;P LOL! It's true though...you can't let the outside world in so much that it takes over. You're in charge; you hold the reins; you decide where you go. Amen?

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    1. Patti, already did it! Kidding! lol

      Amen!

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  11. Good for you! I think the best thing any of us can do for our blogs is to make them relevant and interesting to us.

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    1. Exactly. And if they're relevant, interesting, true to us as bloggers they'll resonate with others. And the greatest part about that is the community aspect and making bloggy friends. :D

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  12. Ooh, now I want to know what sort of crap was streaming in about BEA bloggers conf. I know YOU don't think I'm a bad book blogger for not even knowing! ha.

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    1. Alysa, Twitter search it! Lots of crap.

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  13. Yay!!! So well said. I feel similarly - I'm not really that into stats or getting ARCs. I just want to write about what I'm reading. (I'd be doing it anyway in a journal.)

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    1. Kate, same here! Blogging gives me a push to keep track of books I read in more depth. I probably would not physically write down my thoughts to the degree I do now if I didn't have people to discuss them with.

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  14. This post made me smile. I basically did the same thing. I take only a small number of ARCS now and follow my own stats much less than I used to. I removed Site Meter from my blog. I'm not sure I was ever relevant in the bigger scheme of things, my reading is much too 'eclectic' to be relevant, but I'm having fun.

    My policy now is just to say what I want to say about what I read and to try to have something interesting to say as often as possible.

    But I will probably still write about how e-readers are a harbinger of the ends times on a regular basis. ;-)

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    1. Thanks, C.B.!

      LOL re: harbingers of the end times. You crack me up.

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  15. Stats?! What are those? ;)
    I've been thinking a lot about the pressures of reviewing and whatnot too during my 6 months off, and I plan to be more true to myself, and less stressed about it all as I get back into blogging. So big cheers from me!

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    1. LOL, Nat. Exactly!

      A break like that really does offer perspective. I haven't taken a break that lasts that long, but I've certainly had plenty of ebb and flow with moving and work and all those big life changes that seem to have come my way recently.

      Big cheers!

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  16. "Kiss my stats." Such a wonderful phrase it should be a blog title! Am looking forward to whatever you're going to pull out, at the same time I'm admiring your byline: "Reading whatever I want, whenever I want."

    Suddenly, my lady reclining on her sofa seems a bit too timid...

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    1. Bellezza, definitely a blog title! Or a tagline.

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  17. I am here because of Bellezza's post, and I agree with Bellezza about "Kiss my stats". What a humorous way to say so much!

    I think the important thing is to feel that YOU are in control of your reading. So be selective, and guard your time wisely.

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    1. Thanks, Suko! And I agree that being in control of our own reading is key. And never having shame or second thoughts about reading what needs to be read. Fifty Shades is not my norm but I read it recently because I was super stressed and I neeeeeeeded escapism. No shame in that. It's all about reading moods for me.

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  18. I never pay attention to my stats, and since most of the authors I blog about are dead, I don't accept review copies. I did once and didn't like it and was embarrassed to write about it. I can blog about whatever the heck I want without feeling guilty about it.

    Good for you!

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    1. Good for you, Karen! Freeeedom. One of the upsides of reviewing books by expired authors. lol

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  19. Good for you! :) Blogging should be fun, something you do for yourself.

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  20. You totally just had your Braveheart moment! Reading should be a fun and personal experience. The pressures of meeting review deadlines and completely arbitrary statistics numbers ruins the entire reading process, IMO. Good for you, Andi!

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    1. My Braveheart moment! I love that, Brooke. They definitely dampen the process for me, and quite honestly, once I stick a deadline on something, I automatically don't want to read anymore.

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  21. Well said, Andi -- I was singing a similar song to myself recently.

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    1. Thanks, Diane! It's becoming a very popular song. :)

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  22. Kiss my stats should be your new tagline. :-D

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    1. Tempting, Jill! Very tempting!

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  23. I’m in total agreement with you. Blogging for me is simply a way of having conversations with people about books and reading. And I’m perfectly happy to keep it that way for as long as I want. When I get tired of it, then I’m done :)

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    1. I hear ya, Becca. I started blogging about books because I didn't have anyone in my in-person personal life who read. Same thing now!

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  24. Woohoo!! Do it! I just changed my review policy to be VERY specific on what I will accept for review (very little) and then realized by all the emails I've gotten since that NO ONE EVEN PAYS ATTENTION.

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    1. LOL, Aarti. You're exactly right that no one pays attention. I end up buying the books I want anyway and deadlines kill my reading mojo, so no more review books for moi. Oh well!

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  25. Haha. "Kiss my stats." You tell 'em!

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    1. Thank you, Allie! I know you've been feeling some of this too from some of your recent posts. Unite for fun and less pressure!

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  27. I'm not quite ready to kiss my stats off yet, but I think I could use a little liberation. Thanks for the manifesto!

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  28. I know Kathleen already said it, but I have to say it again: Amen! You preach it, sister!

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    1. Thanks you!!! I was transported back to our Twitter convo for a while there. :)

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  29. Honestly I don't even like to call myself a book blogger. Just a blogger. Who read books and sometimes blogs about them. Why should we spend all this time doing something if not for ourselves and for the love of it.

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    1. Exactly, Trish. And I don't have a problem with the "book blogger" title since it's the majority of what I blog, but I won't feel too swayed by it either.

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  30. Looking at all the comments, I see that we are not alone:) Enjoy your newly found freedom!

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  31. I think this is the only way to give your blog the variety and the personal touch that will keep readers like me coming back. I don't need another push to read the latest stuff that's coming out.

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    1. Jeanne, you're so right. I don't want to read cookie cutter blogs all reviewing the same stuff. Since the big publisher push to "employ" more freelance reviewers, I get a lot of repetition in my recs. I'm often more excited to see backlist reviews personally since I have more to say about them.

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  32. I love everything about this post. I've been struggling with a lot of my own irritations felt by emails, pressures, and the like. I just want to read, and I want to read anything that I like, from Stephen King to Edith Wharton, and I don't want to be b*tch-slapped because the unsolicited ARC that was sent to me is sitting on my bookshelf, and I probably will pick it up NEVER. (By the way, this is part of my own mini-post that I've been lazily crafting, and now I'm linking your fantabulous post to it!)

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    1. I cannot wait to read your post, Natalie!!! These pressures have become quite universal and I feel the bubble may be about to burst in the way pubs and bloggers interact with each other (to some extent).

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  33. I know I mentioned this on twitter, but wanted to do so here as well - preach on! While I still do some review copies, I accept very few and talk to very few publishers. I joke that I review Anansi books only because the publicist lives down the street and I like hanging out with her, and so I read the books she brings ;) The key is not feeling beholden. I really don't care what the trend is or who said what or what we're supposed to care about. That may generate page views, but that is really not my concern. This is a hobby not a job!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! I do find that I'm far more willing to review for authors and publishers with whom I have an established relationship or who I feel are really interested in me as a person/blogger and get to know me rather than sending a blanket request.

      Feeling beholden kills this process for me!

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  34. Adding to the applause. Well said!

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  35. Excellence! I love it! "Read whatever, whenever." is truly what it's all about for me.

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  36. Loved it. Thank you. My personal rant: No one reads my review policy. All this talk about HOW WE MUST HAVE A POLICY!! and no one reads it.
    SO I went ahead and did a policy, a to-the-point short one and no one read it.
    Then I get this A hole Spamming me on twitter about his book that he wants to talk to me about (& 400 of his new book blogger friends that he just found)
    So I went off a bit (it is long winded and no one will EVER read it) but now I've updated my review policy.

    Now that it's off my chest, soon enough it will simply say CLOSED FOR MENTAL BREAKDOWN.

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    1. *Have to add that the thing that truly set me off was that the Ahole Said HE SPENT HOURS ON MY BLOG!
      no kidding.

      (*and he failed to find my policy).

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    2. I loathe that! They should seriously spend some quality time and the return would be SO MUCH BETTER for them. I've worked with some authors and pubs who are legit and fantastic, but the vast majority are becoming spam machines.

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  37. It's funny that I read book blogs before I started blogging - and one of the things that influenced me in a major way NOT to accept ARCs was the fact that everyone seemed not so thrilled with the amount of their "to be reviewed" pile. So I say - hurray! Do whatever makes you happy. I get stressed if I even have a pile of 5 or 6 library books I haven't read yet!

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    1. Amen, Tanya Patrice! The ARCs can reall mount up quickly and then it sucks the fun out. For me, deadlines are not conducive to immersive reading.

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  38. Right on!! I began blogging in 2007 and got caught up so much in all the issues and politics that I almost quit. But I didn't and like this post decided to "liberate" myself and my blog. I don't post as often or even worry about it. When I have something to say...I'll say it. Otherwise I love how you put it: read whatever, whenever. LOVE IT.

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    1. J.C. it's a great feeling to be liberated. There's drama a-stewing on Twitter today as a matter of fact, and my comment was "I don't give a rat's about this and I'm off to Pinterest for a bit!" Feels so much better than getting embroiled.

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  39. You go, girl! I've stopped reviewing almost everything but Library Journal and BookBrowse.com. I just have too much going on otherwise. I still write often - God knows - because I love doing it but I no longer feel guilty about saying no to authors, publishers, publicists, etc. But it's coming time I need to decide if I'm going to continue with my own writing, finishing and pimping something of my own...

    Not there quite yet but I've scaled down the reviews, at least.

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    1. Lisa, the guilt definitely has to go after a while. I know for you this is true: not enough hours in the day.

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  40. Yay, Andi! Throw off those chains. I don't want to be a slave to stats or ARCs either. As bloggers, we love reading and that's why we have blogs. That passion for reading often get lost in the bull.

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    1. Yes it does, and I'm just not willing to let the magic die! The magic of reading OR blogging. It has to be enjoyable and there's so much swirling that can encroach on the fun.

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  41. Thanks for sharing this -- I definitely was seduced by the ARCs and freebies when I started blogging but I'm getting to the point where I want more 'free range' reading rather than having a reading schedule dictated by release dates. Maybe I'll get to this point soon!

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    1. Audra, it came on hard and fast for me in this latest wave. I just have to be honest with myself: deadlines take the fun out of reading for me. With two degrees in English, I had enough of that already!

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  42. Congrats! I'm giving this more thought this year. But I don't want to leave the poets behind.

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    1. Serena, understandably so! Poets need attention in this day and age.

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  43. I'm a former book blogger who walked away to embrace a love of reading for reading's sake instead of reading for the sake of book blogging. My reading life is much more fulfilling now. Three cheers for you.

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    1. Thanks for weighing in, Anon! Enjoy your reading. Always :D

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  44. I so agree! I have a small blog with a limited readership -- I read a lot of small press Canadian work and lots of dead people ;) So while I have accepted review copies I severely limit them and NEVER feel obliged to read anything unsolicited. In most cases I read from the library -- if I'm interested I'll review it, if I get the same book specifically for review it sometimes begins to feel onerous...I don't like being 'unpaid labour' so have mostly freed myself from those obligations :)

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    1. "Unpaid labour" is putting it soooo well, Mel. I'm not a fan of that either and don't want to feel obligated. Truth is, I've never felt as obligated as some anyway, but lately I have so many balls in the air, I just don't have time for additional pressures. Not interested!

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  45. You go girl! I've really scaled back tours and review copies for a lot of the same reasons. We all just need to do what is best for us. And I wholeheartedly agree with "Read whatever, whenever."

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  46. If you could read the Twitter convo about ARC grabbing & marketing, etc, etc today, your head would explode! I only pick a very small selection of ARCs. My reviews are pretty random these days. I have a mix of library, my own, and review books in a lot of genres. I don't even know why I have a review policy any more.

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    1. I read part of it. My head exploded. I just don't give a damn about any of that anymore. Mixture is awesome. Genres are awesome. Free range reading is awesome.

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  47. The only thing this post is missing is a "BOOM" at the end! Great post. I'm with you 100 percent.

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  48. I found this link from Natalie at Coffee and A Book Chick. Good for you! I've been blogging for 3 years and have been feeling the burn...burnout that is.

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  49. I love this post! This sounds so liberating!

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  50. Found my way here from Lisa's (Lit and Life) post about blogging and being on a schedule. It's so amazing that so many of us are planning on ditching review books. By mid-September I hope to have all of my reviews posted and done. After that it's what I want to read when I want to read!! Loved your post and am encouraged by it!

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