Blog As Book

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Levi Stahl ponders blogging self-publishing:

I bought a self-published book last week, and I think it's an example of a situation where self-publishing is the perfect choice. The book, The Wreck of the Henry Clay: Posts and Essays, 2003-2009, collects the best of Caleb Crain's blog, Steamboats are Ruining Everything. Crain is a freelance writer whose byline will be familiar to readers of the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Nation, and elsewhere; he's also published books through traditional means. But one thing publishers have learned in recent years is that an online audience doesn't necessarily translate to book sales, unless the blogger is already a prominent figure or an expert in a field; I doubt that Crain even considered sending the manuscript out to traditional publishing houses when he decided he wanted it in a more tangible form. Instead, he went to Lulu.

Self-publishing seems just right for blogs: like a blog itself, a self-published, print-on-demand volume is essentially a take-it or leave-it proposition. If readers want it, it's there for them; if not, no one loses any great investment, and no resources are wasted. In fact, the only other self-published book I've ever bought was based on a blog, Brian Gunn's matchless St. Louis Cardinals blog, Redbird Nation. Sure, the contents were all available online for free, but I liked the idea of having the book as a reminder of some of the most fun baseball seasons of my life.

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