Over the holiday weekend, I bought a bunch of books from some of my favorite bloggers. From what I’ve been hearing from reviewers and from other bloggers, these books are definitely “must reads,” and I’ve consequently chosen them rather carefully.
I began pondering the idea, however, that these bloggers are writing real books. I read a lot of blogs, but not so many books. Should I draw the line or should I give the print method a fair chance — especially because they are coming from people whose blogs I read daily?
I’ve also run into some other stickier situations, some that deal with my own personal time and others about the thought of bloggers as real-book authors.
With RSS and online content in abundance, where does one find the time to read books and traditional media?
I must say that I used to be an extremely avid reader. When I got a computer, that changed. I wasn’t reading books, per se, but the lines and lines of chat and forum posts and blog posts began filling the void that I was missing in real pages of paper. I suppose I have fallen victim of technology overload, which apparently isn’t too uncommon anymore.
My feed reader contains 149 feeds and counting. I suppose that number is rather exorbitant, but I like to be kept current with news, SEO, social media, and the like. On any given day, the unread items jumps to over 500 in my reader if I let it sit idle (I should keep this in mind should I intend to take a day off!). I end up spending a significant amount of time playing catch-up, and even more so when I feel I should engage in the related blog discussions, thus letting other newsworthy items slip by for the time being.
But even when I try throughout the day to be kept in the loop, I’m often still playing catch-up at home. And this brings me to the issue that I still have these books I want to read.
Since I am a better multitasker, it’s a lot easier for me to read blogs than to read a printed book. I can read blogs while talking on the phone. Since the majority of blogs are very short, I can tackle a work challenge and read a few blogs in between. On the other hand, books require me to really put my mind in another place, often not to be disturbed. The mindset is different once in a book than in cyberspace.
With blogs penetrating the Internet and news articles to read, where do people have time to read books? Is it even necessary anymore? Are blogs a suitable replacement for books?
Why are bloggers writing books? Or did the book come before the blogger?
If everything is becoming free, why not make those books available in ebook format so that I can squeeze the reading in with my natural schedule of technology overload without having to change my mindset? (It’s a thought.)
Book content is usually greater than blog content. Size matters. Does that make a difference?
I’ve read but a small amount of one of the few books I have purchased thus far. This book wasn’t written by a blogger (the author of the book I am reading actually died several decades ago), and I am not yet ready to compare quality of a blog post versus the quality of a book as a general rule. But I think such a comparison would likely be interesting.
A lot of writers write books that contain a main theme encapsulated by a bunch of fluff. Sometimes the writer will claim, “I can write a whole book on the subject matter,” and really will be able to achieve this tremendous feat of offering different viewpoints to make it worth a person’s dollar to purchase the material. Other people will make that same claim, but again, the author’s point is repeated over and over again. While I give a lot of blog-authors credibility, I’m curious to know if I’ll read a book that really feels like a blog author articulating a redundant point from multiple angles. The point the author wants to make will get driven home, all right, but the blog itself would have been just as sufficient.
I bought books by authors who are known bloggers. It’s a fact that people who like what they read are driven to buy a blogger’s published work to educate themselves. Aaron Wall speculated in his SEO eBook that 99% of readers bought his book “probably because” he has an associated blog. Since I’m in the estimated 1% of readers who didn’t, I can only say that maybe he’s right about that number. His associated blog doesn’t give out the secrets of his eBook, so both simply complement each other. From the one blogger whose book I actually did read, this wasn’t the case — the blog itself is does not contain the secrets within the book, though I’m wondering how many other bloggers can pull that off.
I remember reading a blog post not so long ago (though I do not recall the source) about blogging habits, breaking blog posts down to quality and quantity. On one hand, there are bloggers who write long content-rich posts perhaps two or three times a week. Kathy Sierra is one of those popular bloggers who has had wide acclaim for her quality, albeit infrequent, posts. On the other hand, there are bloggers who write several short posts a day, and Dave Sifry (and Neil Patel) agree that quantity is a good thing even if outstanding quality is lacking. Obviously it varies and is subjective. Do you think less is more? Is quality content king? Could elaborate blog posts (or a book) beat out the smaller posts?
Why write a book when you could write a living document in a blog that people read all the time (besides for the financial gain?)
Do bloggers breed authors? Do authors breed bloggers? Rand Fishkin made a statement just a few days ago that not everybody can be a blogger. I would guess (and it’s only a guess at this point) that not every blogger can be an author. But maybe I am wrong.
Should I expect the same voice in a blog versus a book?
I think had I actually bought the book and then read the blog, I might be approaching this differently than another reader. But alas, this is a different scenario because I became a blog reader first, then learned of the blog author’s book, and subsequently purchased the book. Maybe it works both ways.
A book is carefully thought out, edited, and can sometimes seem less personal than a blog post (depending on the writer). I would say that voices are different. The sun shines one day; it rains another day. A regular blogger’s mood is different across days, and it’s an interesting parallel to see behavior from the blog to the book.
It usually takes time to write a blog, but for many bloggers, the only editor is the writer himself/herself. For a book, there’s an editorial committee and a publisher. While I never pursued journalism myself, I’ve seen newspaper article writers’ voices get lost in the editorial process. So I can imagine that a book itself could be different from the author’s blog voice.
I’m going to consider these three questions when I read these books. I’ll report back with my findings when I’m done — but I know it will take awhile, so hang tight. 🙂
What an interesting post…and appropriate for me right now. Although I’ve written several computer books (and that’s still my “day job”), my blog is a different topic. Or rather, a meta-topic–I started the blog to talk about the concepts behind the format and learning principles in our computer books, and to look at ways they could be applied more broadly.
But now here I am in the process of writing a book on THAT, and I’m struggling with some of the issues you brought up. I had the thing half done when some of my reviewers began to say, “It doesn’t sound like *you*. Why can’t you just write like you do on the blog?” So I took a big step back and stopped working on it for the last six months. Recently I came back to working on the book and scrapped everything I did so far (over 200 pages), and am making it a bit more like the blog “voice”, but with a linear path through the topics (as opposed to the more or less random way they appear on the blog).
I’ve also been struggling with size–on one hand, I want the book to have a LOT of value to the reader, and not just be a read-on-the-plane-feel-good thing. On the other hand, I, too, have shelves filled with non-fiction and how-to books I started and never finished. So there’s that.
Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes… I’m hoping to have the book done by the end of this year (yeah, that’s only a few weeks!). And I’d like to hear more from you as promised in your conclusion ; )
Kathy, thank you for writing! I totally understand the conflict. I’m still digging into the books, though I haven’t made much progress lately to say that I have any more insights beyond my post. I’m about to reread a book by a blogger (inspiration, I suppose!) and I’ll probably go off thinking differently about the blog/author voice than I mentioned earlier, but who knows, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
As for value: I think you should pack it in there. You’ll be happy and your readers will be happy and thankful to you. Perhaps as a compromise, you’d want to break your book into various sections so that it has a little bit of a feel of a “read-on-the-plane-feel-good” element while including all of the content, and hopefully, it will appease both worlds.
This blog post itself was inspired when I was driving in the car, and I had a bunch of mixed thoughts that really seemed to lack proper organization. On one hand, I felt that writing it as-is would be a little inundating and I’d lose the reader. On the other hand, I wanted to tackle a lot of different issues that were all related. In the end, I think I got what I want, but it took a lot of reorganization and a different thought process.
I look forward to your book!