Meet Me at the Online Book Fair

obf.jpgI’m pleased as punch to be participating in the Online Book Fair this week as part of their guest blogger series. It’s absolutely worth your time to check out what the passionate readers they’ve brought together on one web page have to say.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the contentious relationship between bookbloggers and critics who review books for newspapers and magazines. I have a foot in both camps, but a good portion of my sympathies lie with the bloggers, and I’ll tell you why. I think we can all agree that the declining state of arts (and especially literary) coverage in the mainstream media is regrettable—and while we can recognize that many journalists covering a cultural beat are doing their best to keep the standard flying, it’s also true that many outlets are cutting back on their coverage of the book world and what coverage they do provide has a tendency to stay in safe, comfortable territory, too often limiting itself to puff pieces on recognizable bestselling authors and handwaving “trends.”

Bookbloggers can see what types of literature aren’t getting covered, and they have the means of production to create their own coverage. Some of them just want to tell you about the great novel they’ve read; others may adopt a more slick approach…one that could, in time, lead some enterprising mainstream outlet to recruit them. But what’s crucial is this: People who love books are encouraging others to read books, celebrating literature not as a collection of icons but as a endlesss inventory of stories (or theses, in the case of nonfiction) to be read, discussed, maybe even reread. And that’s always worth celebrating.

5 October 2006 | events |