One for the Blooks
Bloggers embrace the printed page
There aren't any blook stores yet. Nor is there a New York Review of Blooks. But the blook--a book by a blogger--is a growing presence in the publishing biz. Indeed, this week, contenders for the first Lulu Blooker Prize, for best Web-connected book, were announced.
You can't judge a blook by its cover. Sometimes it may just contain online ramblings, printed on the ancient medium of paper by an old-school publisher or through self-publishing. Other times a blook is pretty much a regular book, only written by someone who couldn't have scored a contract without blogging repute. "Publishers love people testing markets for them," says Michael Cader, an industry expert.
Unalike. Blogs and books may seem like strained bedfellows. Blogs are kinetic, fresh, and free. They represent a new age of public media. Books, meanwhile, are static. It takes time to publish them, they cost money to buy, and they can quickly go out of date.
Nonetheless, bloggers are glad to become blookers. Left-leaning political pundit Markos Moulitsas of dailykos.com gets half a million people a day, and Jerome Armstrong of Mydd.com draws some 20,000. But on March 27, they achieve permanence: Chelsea Green will publish Crashing the Gate, their blueprint for Democratic success in 2006 and '08. "A blog is not a very good place to flesh out ideas," Moulitsas notes. (Although a lot of their blook ideas sprang from their blogs.)
The credibility is nice, too. After all, "blogs have such a low barrier to entry," says Christopher "Biz" Stone, who wrote a semi-tongue-in-cheek piece for Google's blog wizard, Blogger, on how to turn your blog into a book. And yet "what you're really doing with a blog is writing a book openly."
The end result can be quite bookish. Lulu prize finalists include a fairly traditional history/treatise, Biodiesel Power. But sometimes, a blook is its own beast. Another finalist: hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble.
This story appears in the March 13, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.