I accidentally deleted my blogroll in a redesign, but I do enjoy reading blogs.
I have noted big changes online, however, in the last six months. Tom at A Common Reader has quit to do other things, Kevin at Interpolations has been on hiatus, and Belle at Belle, Book, and Candle, who faithfully wrote beautiful little vignettes daily, has cut back to once a week (and who can blame her?) .
There is also the trend of the “group blog.” The Mookes and the Gripe is a well-established group blog, highly recommended by fellow bloggers. Stuck-in-a-Book now uses his blog almost exclusively to provide links to group blogs.
I do understand why blogs are changing.
There are always new platforms on the internet for writing.
And writing about books is hard.
At my old blog, I was (I thought) fast, fun, and facile. At Mirabile Dictu, I hope I am still fast, fun, and facile, but I wanted to write occasionally about non-book-related things.
I was also influenced in part by Howard Jacobson’s satiric novel, Zoo Time. In this hilarious novel, a publisher commits suicide because he has been ordered to tell his writers to “twit” and “blag.”
When he asks at lunch if the hero, Guy, a novelist, “blags,” Guy says,
“The blog’s the end of everything,” [Merton] said.
The blog belongs to yesterday, I wanted to tell him.
I thought this was very, very funny, but… damn. We like to write, we’re addicted readers of literature, and so we “blag.”
I do think there are ups and downs with blogs.
And then there is the Book Whoredom problem.
It’s hard to be a book whore if you’re reading Doris Lessing or Tolstoy.
But sometimes publicists approach us. The new book sounds good, we’re dying to read it, and we like to get packages from UPS.
“This is a free book,” I tell my husband dramatically.
The book may be good, or at least pretty decent, but sometimes it’s not quite for me. And then I worry if it’s better to write something or nothing.
I just don’t read that much contemp lit, so I accept few review copies. This year in my “Best of” sidebar I have mentioned five living writers: Joan Chase, Karen Joy Fowler, Alice Hoffman, Michelle Hunevan, and D. J. Taylor.
I am reading an excellent new novel at the moment, thank God, and will write about it soon. But in my 50s, I’ve grown increasingly picky. If a book disappoints, I don’t finish it.
I wonder: will there still be blogs in ten years? So many people seem bored with them.
I can imagine us all offline…
And that is why I shouldn’t read the dystopian novel, California. I am such a pessimist.
Blogs will only exist as long as people are reading and writing them. If we have all moved on to other things in 10 years time it will because it’s right for us to do so.
I tend to agree with Ali here – if people still want to read about books (or cooking or sewing or whatever the blog is about, they will continue). What concerns me most is the diminishing lack of attention span – my children don’t seem to be able to even deal with email any more, communicating on something called Snapchat, which seems to be just a series of instant, disappearing pictures – go figure!
We have a conversation going here and I agree with the others — as long as we are enjoying it, let’s keep on talking. In 10 years time I probably won’t be blogging or doing much of anything else, so I truly have to seize the moment. This is the moment that I like.
I definitely like your responses! I really miss the blogger friends who aren’t out there at the moment, so am glad the rest of you are positive about continuing. And, yes, if we move on, we move on…
By the way, I must get that blogroll up there again.:)
I think there will always be people who like to talk at a length of more than 140 characters, but sadly not always the same people. Bloggers do seem to fade out in batches.
Yes, bloggers do come and go, I suppose. It seems strange to me that Twitter is now so respsected, with even David Mitchell tweeting one of his stories. It took a lot of tweets apparently. (Why not just put it up at a blog?:)
I agree with you too that blogging has been in a shift recently. I’ve noticed a shift toward “booktube” on Youtube, and I chalk it up to what kaggsy mentioned: attention span. Videos can be quick and passive, and they can be off-putting if the vlogger has a bad/annoying personality that isn’t expressed in their writing otherwise. I have other problems with “booktubing” and the short forms of communication used recently, but I may devote that to a blog post.
Personally, I prefer to read about…well…reading, and I will continue to blog in this format for the foreseeable future. Bloggers may disappear, but new ones will always fill the space. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Keep doing what you’re doing. The frequency and content is up to you–it’s your website.
Literarium, I did not even know about Booktube. There is something sad about these shorter forms of communications, though I do want to know about the culture, so thank you for telling me about this. I do spend a lot of time blogging and reading book reviews, but I have to draw the line somewhere so I don’t spend TOO much time online. You know what I mean…
I think there’s still room for lots of formats and I shall keep blogging – been going for nearly 6 years now and despite being one of the Shiny New Books founders, am still loving my own personal blog. Glad to have discovered yours…
Annabel, I love the personal voices of the individual bloggers. That’s what I enjoy most about blogging!