On how blogs have changed the way I look at books

I have more than a hundred feeds on my Google Reader. It could be much more, just that I haven’t bothered to keep track. Apart from these hundred odd feeds, I also read posts which have been shared by people on my GTalk friends list. And then, you have people who send you the odd link to some strong post or article, and I usually end up reading them too.

The point I’m trying to drive at is that most of my reading time nowadays is spent reading blogs and news articles and magazine articles. The kind of stuff that promises to offer a strong insight once every 1000 words or so, and usually delivers on that promise. Which, in effect, has spoilt me.

So, in effect, whenever I read something, I end up expecting an insight every few hundred words (no, i’m not that jobless to count words. this is just an approximate estimate). And this is the reason why, I think, I’ve stopped reading fiction. Fiction simply doesn’t offer the same kind of insights that blogs do. Yes, stories can be insightful. They do help you learn stuff. They definitely help you “develop as a person”. But if they are longer than a few hundred words (i still have appetite for short stories), they end up boring me. I quickly lose interest. I find no point in reading them.

Whenever I look at a book now, I end up comparing the experience to reading blogs. I see if the book can promise insight at the same rates that blogs can. Which is why I hate single-idea books. i had recently read this book called Why Popcorn Costs So much at the movies. My crib with that was that it didn’t offer enough insight for it’s length. What could have been explained in 20 blog posts had been stitched into a book.

In the era before blogs, such books made sense. There was no quick fix way to get insights, and you would be willing to plough through long books in order to get some insights. And for the author, there was no quick and profitable way of disseminating insights – he was forced to write long books. It was a sustainable market.

Blogging seems to have changed all that. There is a quick and possibly profitable way of disseminating informationn. There is a quick and easy way of receiving it. Some books that were great ideas in an earlier era simply can’t hold up now. In these times, if you are to write a book, you need to make sure that there is actually enough material to hold up all the pages that it’s written on. That even if the main idea can’t hold for so long (it usually can’t), you put in enough sub-plots and side-stories to sustain it.

I want to write books some day. Maybe even take that as a full-time profession – though it’s too early to call on that. However, when I do get down to writing this, I need to keep this concept in mind. That I will need to fill the book with enough insights to sustain it.

PS: i don’t feel the same about movies. I don’t mind the slow buildup and long periods where nothing happens at all. maybe it’s because the movie lasts only about two odd hours in its entirety.

5 thoughts on “On how blogs have changed the way I look at books”

  1. PS: i don’t feel the same about movies. I don’t mind the slow buildup and long periods where nothing happens at all. maybe it’s because the movie lasts only about two odd hours in its entirety.

    May be because we read blogs to get fundaes while we watch movies to ( temporarily ) forget about fundaes? After all, there aren’t enough people in your intellectual bracket for movies that are fundu enough for you to be economically viable. Whereas, writing a blog or a book doesn’t need so much of an investment.

    1. i think so. movies don’t compete with blogs for my attention. they fill two completely different gaps.

      books, on the other hand, are rival to blogs; and so my expectations out of those are higher.

      and i agree with you about the economic argument.

  2. A lot of people feel the same way, to add to what you said.

    I think people widely understand the scalability of profits from writing books. This has resulted is
    a) People who have expertise/strong-message and can write well tend to write more books, even if their central idea can be limited to 2 page article.
    b) People (call it the celebritires/newsmakers) who otherwise don’t have much to say or just have a desire to tell their story tend to publish books which often drown out the bookstores and the “real” books.
    c) Lack of qualified editors or at least not enough of them to cut through the crap. This has caused a lot of formerly book addicts to give up on books.

    The universality of blog-addiction is probably because human beings are by and large mentally indisciplined creatures, who tend more than anything to seek acceptance for their opinions, no external editing or that finality of ink and paper. But I still the benefit of access to a lot of minds still outweighs the coarseness of the blog-o-form.

    1. economics of this is simple. blog doesn’t pay. book pays lots. so you just stretch your idea like rubber and turn your blog into a book. speaking of which i plan to publish a Blook in 1-2 yrs’ time.

      your point b. reminds me of this statement by Joey Barton about Gerrard, Lampard, etc. “we played like shit. we got beat. here is my book” or something

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