Sunday, April 24, 2005

The blogging saga ...

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.


  1. Does that make you Mrs. Miggins, Frank? (Blackadder reference for those who aren't complete Anglophiles like me.)

  2. Well, I've heard of Litblog Co-op now and have added it to the blogroll at right. Thanks!
    As for being Mrs. Miggins, I don't know! I hope that's a good thing.

  3. Well, Willis, Iasked for feedback and you have delivered! And immediately identified a key problem, the problem of distance. As old newsguys, though, we both know that it's the little guy who tends to be kept at a distance more than the big mahoffs. I was watching C-Span a few weeks ago and there was Juan Williams hobnobbing with Howard Dean. A few feet away was Alan Colmes . I'm sure their conservative counterparts can be seen hobnobbing with the Republicans. But none of them is about to take direct calls from Joe Reader.
    I guess the point I was groping toward is that, yes, we do have to unlearn some old procedures and figure out some new ones, because technology is eliminating barriers. So we better learn how to get along with the people crowding around.
    Admittedly, I'm a bit of a softie in this regard. Somebody spends hours, weeks, months writing a book, and no one who supposedly counts wants to even look at it. Something in me wants the people who write to have at least a chance of being read. After all, traditional publishing is responsible for The Da Vinci Code, one of the worst books I have ever had to read.

  4. Anonymous12:02 AM

    As a recently self published author of a novel entitled The Martyrs, I am keenly aware of the inability of the entrepreneurial writer to get recognition from the "gatekeepers" of the media, as you have euphemistically called the large publishing houses, NYC agents, major metropolitan newspaper and magazine book reviewers, etc.

    Freedom of speech and freedom of the press becomes pretty meaningless when you CAN speak but nobody will hear you -- like if you're a liberal guest getting fried (bullied, told to shut up, intimidated, etc.) on FOX News -- or yes, you CAN publish, but nobody will stock your book, distribute your book, review your book or represent your book.

    Even my local library system in Las Vegas, after I presented them with a book and a media kit, would have nothing to do with me -- because I hadn't gotten the nod from the gatekeepers, i.e., bonafide reviews in a respected National publication.

    But with the internet, it's a different ballgame. About a year ago, when I began this self publishing junket, if you did a google search for my name, Tono Rondone, you'd have gotten one hit, and not even my own site.

    Now, do the search and three pages of hits emerge. Why? Because I pretty much made those hits happen myself. I at least felt I had made one successful promotional effort. It hasn't garnered me any real money or recognition at large yet, but it's been the ONLY road so far I've made progress on. Sure I'm listed on Amazon dot com, but that in itself sells no books.

    The Da Vinci Code model is an excellent case in point. I thought, if one more person asks me if I read Dan Brown's book I was gonna puke! The propaganda machine was extremely well oiled on that one -- better to sell a million of one book financially than a thousand of a thousand books. But what we're left with at the end is a very dull, homogeneous Wal Mart Nation.

    So, see the documentary called "OutFoxed" about Murdoch's rape of American journalism, (even though I know about Frank's conservative leanings,) and check out my website

    Oh, BTW, due to blogging, I got my novel in the hands of a major book reviewer who's actually reading it! And I didn't even have to buy him a bagel.


    Shameless self promoter (to me, anybody with something to say in the arts that doesn't promote himself IS shameless -- and stupid.)

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