The Irish blook
29.01.08 | E PURCELL
Blogging has been brewing up a media storm in the Irish media. Two weeks ago, well known commentator, John Waters, attacked the entire blogosphere on Newstalk, one of Ireland's talk radio stations.
Following the lead of Andrew Keen in his book The Cult of the Amateur, John Waters said that blogs were "stupid", "entirely cynical", "entirely negative" and equivalent to the "wall of a toilet". He also attacked the lack of authority and suggested that much of the internet was given over to pornography and self-gratification (of which he believes blogging to be an extension).
Unsurprisingly he was rebutted and lampooned by the blogging fraternity. Eventually he came head to head with one of Ireland's more erudite bloggers Feargal Crehan (a barrister) and the results can be heard here.
Whatever about the merits of Waters' arguments, they do raise the question of blogging's role in Irish publishing. There are more than a few success stories in the field.
Twenty Major **, for instance, an acerbic and witty character who comments on events of the day and is accompanied by a host of interesting and bizarre friends, earned a two book deal from Hodder Ireland (soon to be part of Hachette Book Group Ireland). The attractions of Twenty Major's character as the basis for a book are obvious to the readers. Just the right side of offensive, Twenty manages to pull off the trick of being insulting, rude, profane and yet funny, direct and moral to boot. It is an accomplished achievement and hopefully will succeed in print as it has online.
Mercier Press intends to publish two blooks: one a book of ice cream recipes by blogger Kieran Murphy, Ice Cream Ireland, in April, and one from "Grandad", who writes the amusing account of growing old in Ireland, Head Rambles, that will be published in early 2009.
As publishers the key question is will any of these efforts reproduce the success that companies like The Friday Project and Penguin have had with blogs to books (or blooks)?
While I recognise my own bias, having commissioned the two authors to write books on the strength of their blogs, I think that the route offers several attractive factors to encourage even more development in the genre, especially for aspiring authors. By showing their ability to write coherent and engaging copy on their blogs, authors are showing their capacity and talent to commissioning editors.
By the very nature of the platform, a book writing blogger can also successfully attract attention to his or her own book regardless of media coverage (always welcome) and help booksellers to sell their books.
There will be naysayers who discount the value of blogs and question the values assigned to their authors’ works, but blogs and blooks are now part of the market. With this in mind I think we will see 2008 as a good year for bloggers and books in Ireland.
To hear some of Waters comments visit this site.
**Actually written by a woman, despite the lead character's strident maleness!