Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book Blogs vs. Newspaper Book Supplements

Author Susan Hill is also a book-blogger and she hit the nail squarely on the head a few days ago when she described what it is in the nature of book blogs that makes them so appealing to book lovers. It's the fact that we don't have to read about the same old 20 or 25 books that appear on the various Best Seller lists each week, the same books that we find in every major bookstore in the country. Suddenly we have choice, such a vast choice that it's hard to keep up with the abundance of books and authors that we discover every week.

Literary editors focus almost exclusively on new books, that is their remit; the trade focuses a lot on what is New New New. But one of the joys of book blogging is this absence of stress on the new. I read and re-read. I pick up something recently published. I embark on the Anthony Powell Dance to the Music of Time sequence, which I will eventually write about here. I re-read a Dickens. I enthuse about a novel to be published in August, a proof copy of which has landed on the mat. Or not. People who read the blogs, who buy or borrow a book because they like the sound of it from what I have written, are not worried about when it was published. There is very little Joneses-keeping-up-with and worrying about the Man Booker list.
The book blog has resulted in a new and very refreshing wave of book-focused commentary and, usually, enthusiasm and it is making at least some of the Book Trade wake up to their backlists, to out of print titles, and even bookshops to looking over their shoulders .. in a good way.

Susan is correct, no doubt about it. My TBR list continues to grow and grow as I discover books from past decades that I either never knew existed or didn't have the time for when they were new. And I'm finding those books via the various book blogs that I read each week...not in the big Barnes & Noble or Borders stores that I frequent.

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