Friday, August 1, 2008

The Debate Over Lit Blogs

Lissa Warren over at The Huffington Post has some pretty strong (and negative) opinions about literary blogs.

Scott Esposito at Conversational Reading responds, "It's always a little stupid when people who clearly have only a cursory knowledge of the litblog community start going off about how those starry-eyed bloggers think they're going to replace newspapers."


Lisa said...

Oh, I definitely have some comments for Ms Warren. I don't think any of us think we're going to replace newspapers. But I haven't purchased a book based on a review in the NYT in ages; I have purchased dozens based on reviews by my fellow bloggers. Who then is a better investment for a publisher?

rjnagle said...

The problem I have with newspaper reviews is not the quality of the pieces (they are usually pretty good), but the unoriginal selection of books to review. It's guaranteed that a city newspaper will have reviews of books by Bill Clinton, Ann Coulter, John Grisham, JK Rowling. At least bloggers have more freedom and don't have to write about books their editor thinks are noteworthy. The other built in bias in newspaper reviewing is towards history/current events/social issues. Yes, these all have their place in intellectual life, but again, these things depend on the cult of celebrity (i.e., have you been on Charlie Rose? are you a billionaire? are you a media mogul?, etc).

Actually the more alarming problem is city newspapers which just syndicate reviews from Washington Post or NYT. I haven't looked at the Houston Chronicle recently, but in the early 1990s they had some terrific reviews of literary works. I would be surprised to find that to be true anymore; on the other hand, I would expect to find lots of interesting titles and insights from literary bloggers.

Gwen Dawson said...

Good point. Lit bloggers can review whatever they want, resulting in reviews for a wider variety of books.