Thanks to Dina Mehta for pointing to an interesting discussion on Blogging for Books. Blogging book reviewers are gaining a following. BookSlut gets over 3,000 hits a day. It also seems that there are battle lines being drawn between old media and bloggers on the book review front, just as there are on the political front. (BTW – see the Sunday NY Times Magazine (Sept. 26) – for the political “bloggers on the bus” following the current US presidential campaign). Dina quotes Kevin Smokler:
"The format of the book review is 30 years out of date," he (Kevin) says, where blogging offers the opportunity to discuss not only the book, but the context and process of its creation. It also puts the book's creator out in front of his or her work, a notion that may not sit well with authors who value their privacy.”
Kevin’s thoughts are embedded in a nice discussion on the effect of blogs on book reviews and book promotion by Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel in Blogging for Books.
Margo refers to at least one serious literary blog by Mark Sarvas and concludes with a nice comment I am quoting in its entirety because I really agree with it:
“From a blogger's perspective, old media feel too old-fashioned, too corporate, too confined by non-literary objectives and philosophies to meet the needs of today's reader. Spreading the power is good. Challenging the powers that be is even better. But I don't think the already beleaguered audience for literature needs to be minced and diced into too many small pieces, to the point that we're all having our own separate conversations and losing sight of the larger cause, which is a commitment to the beauty and value of the written word. For all the Internet's interactivity, it seems like more people than not are on send mode. The narrowness and meanness that pervades American politics has shown us how a good idea can devolve into name-calling. I wish better for books.”
I hope that blogging book reviewers are seen as additive and not competitive with old media. I am also sure that there are those reviewers that go both ways. I have had the opportunity of reviewing a book (The Executive’s Role in Knowledge Management – Carla O’Dell) on both my blog and for a print journal, KM Review. It was interesting to reflect on the differences. Immediacy was certainly a plus in the blog column just as Margo pointed out.