Tuesday, May 15, 2007

From Blog to Book...

Zoe Margolis over at the Guardian Unlimited wonders if publishers aren't looking to blogs for their next best-sellers enough:

Yesterday's announcement of this year's winners of the award for blogs turned into books, the Lulu Blooker prize, would have us believe that many publishers are perusing blogs with the aim of adapting them into books. The website eagerly claims, "Traditional publishing houses, ever in search of the next big name author, have begun to mine blogs and websites for new talent...

According to the Blooker site, books based on blogs are "the world's fastest- growing new kind of book ... a new hybrid literary form". Yet last year, the first year of the award, there were 89 blogs-to-books entered for the Blooker prize. This year it's still only around 100. That doesn't seem to support the idea that every publisher and their dog is jumping on the bandwagon - I think it'll be a while before publishers treat bloggers with the same regard as authors. But perhaps not for that much longer: with a plethora of blogs showcasing good writing to a book-buying public, what publisher doesn't want to utilise a ready-made audience for their book?

Ms. Margolis, having had her own blog published into a book, certainly seems to support authors making the leap from blog to book. And she certainly makes a good point when she argues against the "inverted snobbery" of publishers who believe that anything written on a blog must inherently be of bad quality. However, the case that Margolis makes for blogs...
Unlike a book, a blog allows instant feedback. Readers can send in comments immediately upon reading a blog post. This can then initiate a dialogue between writer and reader that is both interactive and productive. Blogging is not writing in a private vacuum, rather it's about putting your thoughts into a public space and finding out what people think of them instantly. This can assist the writer in terms of developing their ideas: it forces you to write succinctly and with focus. While I'm not suggesting it is solely readers' input that makes blogs worthy of being published, I do think the interactivity and open access of blogging is what can make it so enjoyable for both writer and reader.

...could be construed as argument as for why blogs shouldn't be translated into books at all. I'm unsure how I feel about publishers surfing the blogosphere searching for the next Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. On the one hand, certainly some bloggers are writing the kind of posts which would translate well into a memoir of sorts or a collection of essays. But, on the other hand, I think of blogs as an ongoing conversation and, for this reader at least, turning a blog into a books seems a lot like publishing one side of a telephone conversation.

1 comment:

Sam Houston said...

I can't imagine how most blogs would appeal to readers in book form. I think that the blogging style would become a bit tedious in book length and that most readers would grow bored with it. I know that I sure don't write anything on my blog that would be worthy of that kind of treatment...a blog to me is simply a fun way to interact with kindred spirits in "real time."

And on that note, I'm tagging you for the 8 Things meme. The details are on my blog, no obligation if you don't feel like it!