I’ve been reading up a storm the past week or so and I’m trying to write up some reviews of them. In the meanwhile, you can read these:
- The Spring Oxford American has arrived. This is their big Best of the South issue with articles such as “An Ode to the Moon Winx Lodge Sign” by Michael Martone and a story by Kevin Brockmeier.
- I can’t remember who directed me to this interview with Bun B in the Believer but thanks!
- Salon has started a Literary Guide to the World with articles by Alexandra Fuller, Tom Bissell, and Jon Banville. Yes, you have to go through an annoying ad to get to the good stuff, but still.
- This has been mentioned everywhere, but Google has the complete works of Shakespeare available and it’s searchable too.
- In the Boston Globe, Richard Thompson reports that independent bookstores in New England are on the rise. I can attest to that—my store has never been busier and we’re down the street from a Barnes & Noble!
- Lastly I’ll mention the furor that John Freeman of the National Book Critic Circle sparked in the past week with his remarks on affiliates programs and litblogs. Scott Esposito, Ed, Scott at Slushpile, Bud, the Literary Saloon, Sarah, and Ron have all chimed in with their responses. Freeman seems to think that there are some litbloggers who make money off blogging, that by linking to sites like Amazon and so forth through their affiliates programs, they lose their credibility. I don’t use an “affiliate” program here—I link to the store where I work. But I am completely upfront about where I work and clearly if you buy the book at my store, it helps me in the end since they’re paying me. I don’t see Freeman’s point at all. Can anyone see his side?
Tom Bissell? I am so there.
Also: Wondering if you or anyone else has received issue number two of A Public Space. I know it was supposed to ship sometime this month, and I’m getting antsy waiting for mine to arrive.
Nevermind. I see now that it’ll be shipping in July. Darn.
I like the firestorm surrounding Thomas Freeman’s declaration. First of all, I wonder why so many bloggers took such offense. Freeman’s implication that bloggers need some sort of “full disclosure” statement strikes me as downright silly. I think Slushpile got it right: bloggers are hardly getting rich by linking to book titles on Amazon. Not only that, as you demonstrate, many of the most active lit blogs are run by independent booksellers, and like you, are striving to maintain that shrinking market. Anyone with similar interests would hardly be offended by that or doubt a blogger’s integrity because of it.
Aren’t our comments and criticisms on books the equivalent of electronic hand-selling?
Good point Darlene. I think people took offense to Freeman’s comments because he’s implying that many of us are not being honest. I don’t feel the need to defend myself, mostly because I don’t use the Amazon affiliate program and don’t gain any money from this site. But others, who don’t have access to the amount of books I do working at a bookstore, might find that the program helps allay any costs in running a site. Freeman implications damage our reputations (such as they are) and he should know that most of us maintain these blogs out of love of books, not money.
While I don’t have anything to add to the many eloquent posts regarding Freeman’s accusations, I do want to point out something that I feel has been overlooked a bit: the mere fact that litblogs are joining the Amazon associates program at all. As a member of the American Bookseller’s Association, I know that Amazon’s dominance in the marketplace has been a growing concern for many years. There is a real concern that the independent bookstore is disappearing from the American landscape. Litbloggers, of all people, could be at the forefront of this issue and one way to support the independents is to join either the Booksense associates program, or Powell’s, or The Tattered Cover’s.