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Friday, November 24, 2017

The Fate of Words Online

by Matt Weston (writer), New York, April 30, 2007

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What role do litblogs play in the literary world? According to a panel of litbloggers assembled at the LA Times Festival of Books on Sunday, their future is unclear. If the liveliness of the discussion was any indication, their future also holds great promise.

Of the four participants – three bloggers (Carolyn Kellogg, Andrew Keen, and Ron Hogan), and one moderator / blogger (Tod Goldberg) – Keen had the direst answer: litblogs won’t last long unless they “monetize” – that is, make money. Even if litblogs are built upon strong business models, Keen worried that ad dollars might corrupt the content of a site.

Litblogs, broadly defined, are interactive discussions about books, facilitated by writers, readers, and lovers of the same. Once the domain of the very few, litblogs have emerged as an influential community in the publishing industry. In a business where consumer outreach has stagnated since the dawn of the print advertisement, the buzz-type popularity generated by litblogs through reviews, links, and message boards is changing how authors are cultivated, and how books are marketed.

While publishers have incentive to employ litbloggers as agents to create footholds for new releases, Kellogg cautioned against viewing all litblogs as publicity real estate. The possibility of “getting rich,” she said, “doesn’t motivate people to write about books on blogs.”

Hogan’s career arc, beginning with Beatrice.com in 1995, one of the internet’s first literary sites, testifies to how a skilled hobbyist can proceed with integrity in the litblogosphere while earning readers, notoriety, and, eventually, money.

The free content offered by Beatrice.com, Hogan admits, was “advertising for myself.” As the profile of his litblog grew and sponsors and public relations firms took notice, Hogan was able to parlay this literary currency into regular features in Publishers Weekly and mediabistro’s GalleyCat.

As this pioneer listened to his fellow panelists debate the long-term viability of litblogs, Hogan affirmed that his m.o. hasn’t changed since his original post.

“I love reading, I love great books, and I love telling people about them,” he said.



Tod Goldberg's blog: http://todgoldberg.typepad.com/

mediabistro's GalleyCat blog: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/

Andrew Keen's blog: http://andrewkeen.typepad.com/

Carolyn Kellogg's blog: http://pinkyspaperhaus.com/


About the Writer

Matt Weston is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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