Bookmarked! The Quick Fall Of The (Blog) Book

The Death Of ReadingI love Sharon Bakar. Just the other day I found two articles via her blog (Bibliobibuli) entitled ‘The Sharp Rise (And Quick Fall) Of The Blogger’s Books.’ It is the ugly sound of publishers waking up to reality: blogger popularity will not translate to book sales. A particularly telling sentence:

… “built-in” audience or not, it all comes down to content. “A good writer is a good writer,” says Leitch. “Dana Vachon’s book (Mergers & Acquisitions), which was based on his blog – the key to that, it wasn’t about a guy that blogged. He’s a real writer. I don’t think anyone picks up the book and is like, ‘Hey, where are the links?'”

Wonderful stuff.

On a partially related front: does writing really matter? Caleb Crain writes in the New Yorker that reading may very well die out: instead, people will communicate through more visual mediums. The image that hit me was Socrates laughing away in his grave – he believed writing to be inferior to conversation.

A paragraph that made me cringe:

… but some sociologists speculate that reading books for pleasure will one day be the province of a special “reading class,” much as it was before the arrival of mass literacy, in the second half of the nineteenth century. They warn that it probably won’t regain the prestige of exclusivity; it may just become “an increasingly arcane hobby.”

In which case you and I will be very rare people indeed.

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Category: Bookmarked!
  • Alexandra Erin

    I’m not overly worried… texting, IMing, and of course blogging are all proof positive that the written word is alive and well. I don’t have a link handy (I’m typing this on my phone), but there’ve been some serious articles written on the subject of IMing and its effect on kids in the area of reading.

  • Ergoemos

    I agree with both you and Alexandra. This same speculation would lead one to believe modern technology, all requiring text of some kind to function, even in binary, will only be available to those that hobby in reading. Basic reading is required in programming, one cannot paste images into code and hope to get the right result. I am not one hundred percent sure, but I think that society is heading towards more technology, not less.

  • Eli James

    I think I represented Caleb Crain’s article the wrong way. He was arguing that the book will die out, though reading and writing won’t.

    There’s an interesting part in his article where he compares the differences between a movie centered culture and a book centered one:

    If one person decides to watch “The Sopranos” rather than to read Leonardo Sciascia’s novella “To Each His Own,” the culture goes on largely as before—both viewer and reader are entertaining themselves while learning something about the Mafia in the bargain. But if, over time, many people choose television over books, then a nation’s conversation with itself is likely to change.

    It doesn’t really worry me, to tell you the truth: as long as I keep reading and enjoying books, this doesn’t matter. But I will pass on the ability to do so to my children.

    @Alexandra: I’d like to read that article. Do you have the link?

    @Ergoemos: Oh yes, definitely. Reading and ‘writing’ will always be there in the world of programming.

  • bibliobibuli

    hi eli! have you picked up a copy of awang goneng’s
    growing up in trengganu” based on his blog “kecek-kecek” yet? it’s a gem. a great book and testimony to how blooking can really work.

    i will blog it soon but am slipping it slowly for now.

    hope you are having a great christmas

  • Eli James

    Hello Sharon!

    I haven’t yet picked it up, but I’ve heard about it and followed it up on both Bibliobibuli and Blooking Central. Don’t know what to make of it yet, since I haven’t read it.

    I am. Merry Christmas to you too!

  • Alexandra Erin

    I have a sinking suspicion that the people most likely to decry the “death of litera(cy/ture)” are also the people most likely to bemoan Dan Brown novels, Harry Potter, “chick lit”, bodice rippers, the seemingly disproportionate success of Chris Paolini, online literature, comic books, “the cult of the amateur”, texting/IMing, people reading a book while watching American Idol with one eye, and so on…

    Really, the problem isn’t that people aren’t reading but they aren’t reading the way that they’re “supposed to.”

  • Eli James

    There are people who bemoan Harry Potter!?

    OMG! Nurse! The smelling salts!


  • CrazyDreamer

    @Alexandra Erin (comment 2): Ha-ha! So very true.