New York Sunday Journal, May 3, 1896. Why did I post this on Saturday, to protest the idea of having to collect all my thoughts on Sunday and post them all at once as a Salon post.
Daily Thoughts 5/29/2010
Anyways, the big book convention is over. I had a chance to go through and look at the blog list of the Book Bloggers Convention. I never did put up a button for them. These are a few of the blogs which I liked from the list. I visited all of them to see what they looked like. Sometimes, it is a chance to just see what people are doing. http://bookbloggerconvention.com/attendees I probably should have gone through this before I went to the reception. But, then I am not very good at should have.
I really like the Rasco from RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) blog. It has a very clear design and excellent message. http://www.rascofromrif.org/ Reading Is Fundamental is part of the Summer Reading programs at most public libraries in the United States. I also liked Jeff's, The Reading Ape Blog http://thereadingape.blogspot.com/. His summary of Book Expo America is quite good. I joined the Book Bloggers Hop on Crazy For Books, I am #175, http://www.crazy-for-books.com/. I sometimes twitter with Marie from The Boston Bibliophile which is a quite nice blog. She is also a librarian blogger. http://www.bostonbibliophile.com/ . Maw Books by Natasha is of course wonderful, she was the primary arranger of the Book Blogger Convention. http://blog.mawbooks.com/ . There is also The Book Publicity Blog which I find fascinating.http://yodiwan.wordpress.com/. I have never seen so many book publicists in one place...
I also looked through the industry bloggers. The AMACom Blog looks quite interesting, it is often hard to find decent reviews for business books. I think I will get Investing In A Sustainable World Why Green Is The New Color of Money On Wall Street by Matthew J. Kiernan, Ph.D. http://amacombooks.wordpress.com/ . Another industry blog which looks very nice is Online Publicist. http://onlinepublicist.blogspot.com/. I liked the design of Authors on the Web, they left us a gift in the goody bag yesterday, a reading light. http://authorsontheweb.com/. I was surprised to have missed Quirk Books, http://irreference.com/ They are famous for Seth Grahame-Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. We also purchased Queen Victoria Demon Hunter from them as well as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter for our library. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was recently turned into a graphic novel.
Some Final Thoughts on Book Expo and the Book Blogging Convention.
One of the underlying conversations at the Book Expo was about reviewing. Although, it was not said out loud, the publishers were giving out a lot less review copies to attendees. Some were also limiting their copies to "reviewers." They were also trying to switch away from physical copies to either codes which allowed downloads to books or egalleys. This was a way to lower costs and improve distribution. While I was following the Ning Book Blog group there were questions about how international readers could get galleys. I would imagine that shipping a physical galley overseas via airmail would be cost prohibitive.
During Ron Hogan's talk he said that blogs had won out against review sites. He told us that places like the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others were creating their own blogs to review books. The specific blog that Ron Hogan mentioned was Jacket Copy of the Los Angeles Times. Ron Hogan made a statement that Bloggers have won. I read the Books section of the New York Times on occassion looking at Paper Cuts one of the New York Times blogs.
I am not 100% sure about this, but I can tell you that blogs do have some advantages. They do not have to follow a formula or editorial policies created in review periodicals. They can innovate in their style. I often find myself when reading library review material wondering if they copied the dust jacket copy practically word for word to create the review. I think this is one of the reasons that Kirkus Reviews survived; they were willing to include more negative reviews and more florid language.
Bloggers can put an original voice and style into reviews. They can also add new conventions to describing books like adding descriptions of layout, style, and photography in books. There are no rules right now. Also, with nonstandard language it is much easier to prove you have read a book. A blogger can use much more original language. Hopefully, reviewers at the professional journals will adapt some of the better conventions from blogs as they are tried.
While I was at the Book Bloggers Convention, there was another group conversation about bloggers and reviewers. Bloggers do not have to write negative reviews. If someone gives you a book and you write a negative review, you might not get another free galley from them. It is often difficult to write a negative review. A blogger is not getting paid to write a review. Often, they are reading for pleasure. There is no requirement for them to finish reading a book which they do not like. A reviewer is being paid. The blogger can simply stop reading. I still think it is best to have at least a mention that they stopped reading a book and why.
There is an unacknowledged tension between the style of "readers advisory" and "literary criticism." The style of literary criticism appears to be fading a bit for popular titles. During the Librarians 2nd Annual Shout and Share, which is a book talking panel by collection development librarians, at around 3:45 p.m. Miriam Tuliao cofounder of Earlyword.com http://www.earlyword.com/ mentioned a new trifecta for bestsellers. If a book is prominently featured in USA Today, People, and Entertainment Weekly it will most likely appear on the bestseller lists. I hope, I will not have to read these magazines to measure some of the popular titles to get.
This is a bit stunning. I like many of the print publications like the New York Review of Books which is on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/NYRB.Classics and hope they are quick and adaptable in meeting the challenges facing them. My hope is that purely popular institutions will not have too much impact on our reading habits.
The final question which I faced directly, is "Is a blogger a reviewer?" Many people both write literary reviews and blogs. How do you approach a company and ask them for books who want their books reviewed, but are a little shy of giving a blogger a book. Luckily, because I work around a constant flow of books, I don't have to hunt for new books to read and review. Others do. I still really want certain titles on occassion. At the Book Blogger Convention, we were given contact sheets for Harper Collins to request review copies if we wanted them for blogs.