Blogs and books

Posted by Rob Walker on January 6, 2009
Posted Under: Uncategorized

James Surowiecki, on his NYer blog, asks:

Has any regular blogger—someone who’s posting a sizeable amount of content every day—written a great book (whether in terms of critical acclaim or public influence)? I realize that’s a completely old-media question (why, after all, should books be the criterion of anything?), but I’d still be interested to hear people’s answers.

Unfortunately there appears to be no way to leave a comment, or contact Suroweicki, so I’m not sure how he’s going to get answers.

Anyway, I would say that a few things that leap to mind are that Julie/Julia book (blogger who cooked from Julia Childs cookbook and wrote about it), very well-reviewed and sold well; that book by the waiter who ranted anonymously on a blog, I think that was well-received, and sold welll; and I guess the stuff white people like blog/book, I think that has done well and people like Kurt Andersen think that it’s “smart.”

Maybe none of those count as critical acclaim and public influence, I’m not sure. But those are the ones I can think of.

In general, publishers have thrown a lot of money at bloggers, but most of those efforts have not been successful.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

Dr. Vino has two books. Steve Heimoff has two books (but I think of him as more of an Author–>blogger, not an author/blogger.

I think the blog is more of way to maintain transparency, grow your community, and direct people towards your interests. Your interests can be the book your wrote, the winery you own, or the retail store you crush it at daily…

Written By Dr. Horowitz on January 6th, 2009 @ 11:13 am

Seth Godin has written a few books that have sold well (Purple Cow, and others, and he blogs daily at

As Dr. Horowitz suggests, Godin’s approach seems more to do things and to use the blog to extend the message and grow community. But he also uses the community he has to test ideas (like the tribe project he ran last year).

Written By Cynthia Closkey on January 6th, 2009 @ 11:23 am

Yes I think Surowiecki is thinking more along the lines of people who were pure bloggers first and then went on to write books. Godin, for instance, was an established book-writing guru before his blog, I believe.

And I think by “critical acclaim and influence,” or whatever, he’s thinking more in the terms that one would associate with, say, books The New Yorker would consider acclaimed and/or influential. In other words, someone more like Surowiecki (who of course broke into the business by way of online writing, but it wasn’t “blogging” back then).

Of course I don’t know for sure if that’s how he’s thinking about it. Obviously there’s a lot of subjectivity involved.

Written By Rob Walker on January 6th, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

I’ll add Noah Scalin to the mix, author of the blog Skull-a-Day and the subsequent book “Skulls.” It may not have been released to “critical aclaim” but it’s been getting a lot of press and landed Noah an appearance on The Martha Stewart Show. Of course, it’s more of an art project than a writing project. Nevertheless…

Written By Jess S. on January 6th, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

Those are some pretty good examples – I’d also offer “Crashing the Gates” by Markos Moulitsas (aka Kos) and Jerome Armstrong as something that wasn’t “great” but actually was pretty influential in influence, at least in some progressive political circles. Mainly though, blogging and book-production are both things that involve writing words, but that’s kind of where the similarity ends. Similarly, has any pop singer written a great symphony? Paul McCartney tried, I think, but I don’t know how interesting a question it is.

Written By jkd on January 6th, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

How about Seth Godin?

Written By SupaMaN on January 8th, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

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