Arguments On Lulu (Sigh)

Nick Cohen recently wrote about Colby Buzzell and blooking in general, and the article’s lit off a firestorm about – strangely enough – Lulu.

The NHS blog doctor asks: ‘Why is the main-stream media so sniffy about Lulu?’, and then gives an answer:

Because they are frightened. They are in the same position as the typewriter industry a generation ago, or as the Roman Catholic Church was when, for a few moments, it took its mind off protecting paedophiles to resist the move to the vernacular. Heaven forbid that the general public should be allowed to make up their own mind about novels and the Bible.

How long will it be before a successful established author decides to cut out the middlemen and takes the next manuscript directly to Lulu? Watch the agents and publishers sweat when that happens.

But really now, Nick Cohen wasn’t all out against Lulu! He merely admits that blooking is, at this moment, a strictly amateur medium. I’ve written about this before, and talked about how we have yet to see any work of significant literary merit make it to the web. Yes, there is hope yet for the medium, but by saying we are teeming with quality right now is a tad ridiculous.

One comment did strike me while I was reading the Guardian Unlimted article:

MichaelBulley writes: Google works, after a fashion, for info: if I want to find info about sackbuts I type “sackbut” and sift through the results to get what I want and it usually works OK, but how am I going to use Google to find a good novel or a good poem that I’m as yet unaware of? The current conventions of established publishing houses may have faults that prevent some good works from seeing the light, but if I type “a good poem” in Google and hit the Enter key, is that going to do me much good?

It hits the nail right on the head: how are new readers going to find new blooks? It is a phenomenon in the publishing industry, yet nobody knows where to find one. I may be highlighting blooks in my Bookmarked! posts, and the Lulu Blooker Prize may be generating buzz, but think about it: none of these blooks are likely to be seen or bought in a bricks and mortar bookstore.

Hush about online shopping and The Long Tail: the majority of books are bought in real world bookstores (and usually on a whim, I must add), not online.

Well, if ‘a successful established author decides to cut out the middlemen and takes the next manuscript directly to Lulu’, we’d see a lot of revolution indeed.

Let’s hope that happens.

Update: I can’t not link to this article. It is brilliant!

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Category: News · Writing Web Fiction