On Friday I got an email informing me that Blogit, which describes itself as "the first blog-for-pay community," and which features 25,000 blogs on its site, had reached the 1 million mark in terms of writers' posts and readers' commentaries. The way Blogit -- which only started up three years ago -- works is that readers subscribe and half of the money from the subscription fees is distributed to the writers of the blogs proportionally -- the more people read a given blog, the more money that blogger gets.
We hear all the time that reading is in decline. But anyone in my position has to be aware that there's something funny about that -- because more people than ever, it seems, want to write. And people who write are usually people who read.
We also hear a lot about the public's disaffection with tradional journalism. But I have the distinct impression that there is just as much disaffection with traditional publishing. Computers and the Internet have given the gatecrashers around the gatekeepers.
Back in 1997, I wrote a piece for The Inquirer about how the Internet had completely revolutionized the second-hand book business. It's now in the process of revolutionizing both publishing and journalism. At least Rupert Murdoch seems to think so.
What is interesting about Blogit is that it is a community of writers and readers. In fact, it is precisely the relationship between reader and writer that blogging can bring about that makes blogging worthwhile.
Which brings me to what I hope becomes the point of this blog, which has as much to do with what's going out there, among the consumers of books and other reading matter, as it does with anything else. If this blog works out the way I hope it will, it will become the cyberspace equivalent of an 18th-century coffee house.
Charles Mandel at Books, Booze and Bikes posts a few observations that have some bearing on this.