Can print book coverage and literary blogs ever find a way to get along? Book blogger Maud Newton thinks so: "I find it kind of naïve and misguided to be a triumphalist blogger," she told Times book reporter Motoko Rich. "But I also find it kind of silly when people in the print media bash blogs as a general category, because I think the people are doing very, very different things." A good point, and one that's entirely lost on novelist Richard Ford.
Mr. Ford, who has never looked at a literary blog, said he wanted the judgment and filter that he believed a newspaper book editor could provide. "Newspapers, by having institutional backing, have a responsible relationship not only to their publisher but to their readership," Mr. Ford said, "in a way that some guy sitting in his basement in Terre Haute maybe doesn't."
At least Richard doesn't pretend that he knows what he's talking about! That totally sets him apart from Washington Post book columnist Michael Dirda, who contributed a screed about his anti-blog feelings to his boss Marie Arana over on the National Book Critics Circle, uh, Blogspot blog.
"Every blogger wants to write a book," Dirda begins. Sure, who wouldn't! That's where the real money and glamor is! Oh, hilarious. No thanks! He continues:
In fact, the dirty little secret of the internet is "Littera scripta manet"—the written word survives. A book is real, whereas cyberspace is just keystrokes—quickly scribbled and quickly forgotten. But to publish a book isn't enough: It has to be noticed. And this is where book sections matter. If you were an author, would you want your book reviewed in The Washington Post and The New York Review of Books—or on a website written by someone who uses the moniker NovelGobbler or Biografiend? The book review section, whether of a newspaper or a magazine, remains the forum where new titles are taken seriously as works of art and argument, and not merely as opportunities for shallow grandstanding and overblown ranting, all too often by kids hoping to be noticed for their sass and vulgarity.
Well, that settles it. We're only reading NovelGobbler.com from now on. (What do you mean, it doesn't exist?)