The blogging books: An invitation and a promise

I’m curious, and maybe just a little frustrated.

Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples has been available from Lulu since August 25, 2007, and from Amazon/CreateSpace since August 30, 2007. To date, it’s sold 62 copies–disappointing for 5.5 months, but not disastrous.

But I haven’t seen any review or commentary anywhere–on any blog or list that I’m aware of. That’s the frustrating part.

I’m not necessarily looking for praise. Maybe the blogging books were bad ideas; maybe they were badly done. How would I know? You spend a couple hundred hours on something that you believe to be worthwhile, to contribute to the community, and you’re likely to have a blind spot about it.

One reason I’m so happy with the four reviews of Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity & Change (not quite at the 200-copy mark yet, if you’re wondering) is that, while all four were positive, none was an unalloyed rave. Every reviewer had negative as well as positive things to say.

And the first real review of that book appeared just under a month after the book became available. (The first comments appeared even sooner.)

Now, Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples hasn’t quite been out for a month yet (here’s the Amazon/CreateSpace link). I wouldn’t expect much in the way of sales or comments yet, particularly since it appeared right after Midwinter.

Still, here’s an invitation and a promise that apply to both books:

You’re invited to review either or both–on your own blog, presumably–and let me know you’ve done that. Or, for that matter, to comment on either or both books in some way short of a full review: Even maybe “why I wouldn’t advise anyone, including myself, to spend $20 or $29.50 for this book.” ($20 is the Lulu download price, $29.50 the paperback price. Still no way of bundling the two for, say, $40.)

If you review or comment on either or both, I’ll link to the review or comment. That’s part of the invitation.

Here’s the promise: No matter how negative the review or comment is,

  • I won’t hold it against you personally. If you’re a friend/acquaintance now (and I’d guess that most people who read this blog fall into those categories), you’ll be a friend/acquaintance no matter what you say about the books or the advisability of doing them.
  • I won’t argue about what you say. The only response I might make to negative comments/reviews is if you say something factually wrong that’s also important–e.g., if you said “Crawford probably didn’t actually look at all of these blogs; he probably just made most of it up.” I can’t imagine anyone would come that close to slander, and I really can’t imagine what someone would say that was factually erroneous. “Crawford can’t write his way out of a paper bag” is opinion; I wouldn’t argue.

I’m pondering future projects. (I’m also pondering buying a very small number of review copies to send to traditional library media–but given my recent history with print reviews, as in the lack of them for First Have Something to Say, I’m not in any great hurry…) Some of those projects might be research projects involving a fair amount of work–like the blogging books. A reality check would be useful.


Update April 11, 2008: Library Technology in Texas mentioned both books (and the series of “quintile” posts) in a nice post. Thanks!

Update December 28, 2008: Kate Davis (virtually a librarian) offered a nice comment on Public Library Blogs.

Update June 28, 2009: To my considerable surprise, the Queen City gazette (Cincinnati chapter of SLA) has a positive review of Academic Library Blogs in the March 2008 issue.

6 Responses to “The blogging books: An invitation and a promise”

  1. Bex Rabo Says:

    Hi Walt,

    With your permission, we would like to include the summaries of any or all of your books at http://www.bookjive.com. It would be great if you can can send us a short summary of each of your books.

    Regards,

    Bex

  2. Diane Says:

    Add one more copy to your purchase record. I ordered Academic Library Blogs last week because we are currently re-designing our library web page and I am interested in what other academic libraries are doing with blogs – and – because I noticed you mentioned one of the current library/IRC blogs in your book I was curious.

  3. walt Says:

    Diane: Thanks.

    Bex: The summaries are all available at Lulu; I’ll send you email with copies of them.

  4. Jon Gorman Says:

    I’m not really planning on getting the blog books. Maybe telling you why I’m not interested might give you some better ideas.

    First, I’m already subscribed to plenty of blogs. I really don’t go out looking for more. In fact, I’m not a huge fan of some of the ones I’m subscribed to and don’t even read those frequently. They’re just blogs that tend to be read by others so I have them there in case someone else mentions something. I’m not actively looking for more. I imagine there’s probably more than a few people like me.

    Second, even though I’m sure you’ve avoided this, it brings back memories of books that seem to crop up every few years with titles like “100 websites on gardening” or “10001 places to get free stuff on the web”. It seemed like half the time the links are dead or gone by time the book came out. It might have been better to go with a title like “Creating a Public Library blog” and including observations gleaned from the other blogs. Then include a review as an appendix or a second half of the book. After all, if it’s just a list of websites, these days I don’t see much reason in getting a book that’s essentially just a directory. I’ll just use yahoo, google and then start following links from one blog to another.

    Third is more of a personal reason. Right now I’m trying to budget just how many books I buy. A book on blogs is probably going to fall lower than others, even if it’s written by you ;). The prices for the books are really reasonable, but it would still feel a bit like an impulse buy rather than any need. (And I’m thrifty and try to avoid impulse buys.)

    Anyhow, don’t know if that’s of any help but I need to get back to work ;).

  5. walt Says:

    Jon, Thanks for the comment.

  6. walt Says:

    OK, turns out there is a review–on LibraryThing. (I just stumbled on this today through a tangled path).

    I’ll quote the entire review below. As promised, I won’t argue with it. I will note that, if the perception is that the books consist of nothing more than “samples pulled off the blogs”…well, then I failed as a writer or as a marketer. Which is quite possible. (If the person read the book and came up with that conclusion–that, essentially, there’s no value-add at all–then I really failed and should basically give up this sort of project. Which is also quite possible.)

    Here’s the review:

    “Book format isn’t right for this type of info — already out of date, and just samples pulled off the blogs. Best to go to an online listing for current efforts.”


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