Blogs and Books

by Brian on April 19, 2006

Language Log is having a book published of their best posts for the last few years. Although there won’t be anything new in this, it should be a fun record of what has long been to my mind one of the best academic blogs around.

I’m sure there are other examples of blogs turning into books, though I think this is the first time it’s happened to a blog that I read regularly. To be honest, it’s hard to think of many other blogs I read that would be even suitable for this treatment. (Perhaps CT is the only one, though not for my contributions!) Most political blogs are too focussed on the day to day aspects for there to be much value in a print publication. And most philosophy blogs tend to publish snippets, thoughts in progress and the like, which need a lot of polishing before they are ready for print. When I started blogging it was with the hope that it would genuinely be an alternative publishing source. That is, it would be a place where I put things that were finished pieces, but which wouldn’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t end up in traditional print journals. But in fact it has turned into a repository for transient thoughts, not a publishing place. Language Log has, to a large extent, gone the other way.

Which other blogs do people think are worthy of commemoration in dead-tree format?

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John Quiggin » Blog Archive » Books and Blogs
04.20.06 at 3:03 am
Crooked Timber » » Books and Blogs
04.20.06 at 3:58 pm



Blar 04.19.06 at 11:48 am

Some people think that Glenn Greenwald could make the transition (like his publisher).


nick s 04.19.06 at 12:13 pm

Sexbloggers are probably category one in ‘most likely to get book deals’, for obvious reasons. Timeless and universal, as the line goes.

On the political side, David Neiwert’s Orcinus is an obvious choice.


Sebastian Holsclaw 04.19.06 at 12:14 pm

Didn’t Bill Whittle’s posts from Eject! Eject! Eject! get published in book format?


Carlos 04.19.06 at 12:16 pm

Fafblog and The Poor Man.


Scott Spiegelberg 04.19.06 at 12:43 pm

John Scalzi is making two books from his Whatever blog.


Pho 04.19.06 at 12:50 pm

Those of us who have been following Fred Clark’s weekly deconstruction of Left Behind are hoping he puts a hardcover on it someday.


Cryptic Ned 04.19.06 at 12:58 pm

A lot of blogs are very similar to a series of columns. I think Derek Lowe’s “In the Pipeline” could generate a book that would stand on its own as a collection of interesting observations.


grant 04.19.06 at 1:10 pm

Three off the top of my head that have had dead-tree compilations of posts: Paul Graham, Joel Splosky, Wil Wheaton.

Graham and Splosky are excellent. Wil Wheaton is also decent but his blog has been a little more hit or miss IMHO lately.


"Q" the Enchanter 04.19.06 at 1:13 pm

The Loom.


Henry 04.19.06 at 1:19 pm

Some great blogs are hard to imagine making the transition very well, because they’re more discursive. You could make a wonderful book from TNH’s posts at _Making Light_ – but it would miss the comments which are most of the fun. Mebbee Fafblog – although an entire book wouldn’t show it off to its best advantage – a Fafblog calendar???


polyglot conspiracy 04.19.06 at 1:20 pm

Not really a blog, but GroupHug has a book that came out last year, I believe. I blogged about it at the time, was looking some stuff up and also found out that other similar sites had books made out of them – Not Proud and DailyConfession. Not at all the same kind of sites you’re talking about, but they still represent interesting transitions from online to print.

What’s most difficult to process about this transition of blogs to books, for me, is how to deal with the inherently linked-up nature of blogs. That’s part of what people like about them, part of what also makes them so interesting: they are so interconnected with other online content. I’m curious to see how that shakes out in print in the Log’s book (which I will definitely be buying, or at least investigating in the store).

As for Language Log, I don’t think it’s largely gone the way of a “publishing place” any more than most (academic/political) blogs. They still write on things that just kind of pop up as interesting that aren’t researched uber-scientifically (Google’s one of their fave research tools), and they write colloquially and personally. Especially considering their academic field, this still feels QUITE different from published writing. And it’s also very internet-centric in a lot of ways.


Matt Weiner 04.19.06 at 1:21 pm

I haven’t read enough of Hitherby Dragons to be sure, but it seems like a candidate. Or maybe it is a book that just happens to be being published gradually, using blog software.


Mark B. 04.19.06 at 1:31 pm


Ginger Yellow 04.19.06 at 2:09 pm

As already mentioned, David Neiwert (his Rise of Pseudo-Fascism might as well be a book) and Glenn Greenwald. Also Digby’s writing deserves dead trees to memorialise it.


greensmile 04.19.06 at 3:02 pm

And then there is Wonkette

Not quite academic enough I suppose;)


KCinDC 04.19.06 at 3:09 pm

Thanks to everyone for making it through 15 comments without using the word “blook”.


Sebastian Holsclaw 04.19.06 at 3:31 pm

I agree that many of the posts in “In the Pipeline” could be combined into an interesting book.


kevin 04.19.06 at 3:36 pm

In addition to the slacktivist’s Left Behind deconstruction already mentioned, I think the Valve could probably make the transistion to book very well, as could Making Light, if the comments could be preserved.


Tom Scudder 04.19.06 at 3:36 pm

Both Salam Pax’s blog and Riverbend’s have already appeared to some acclaim in dead tree version. I agree that much of Hitherby Dragons (or a “greatest hits” version) is worthy of similar honors.


Anderson 04.19.06 at 4:04 pm

That Salon blog where the woman cooked through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year is supposedly going to be a book. The blog was a hoot, & I’d buy the book. (In paperback. Discounted on Amazon.)


Dylan 04.19.06 at 4:06 pm


me2i81 04.19.06 at 5:16 pm

Digby and Billmon


me2i81 04.19.06 at 5:18 pm

That Salon blog where the woman cooked through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year is supposedly going to be a book

Julie and Julia was published in September 2005


neal 04.19.06 at 5:31 pm

Spurious and Postmodern Courtesan.


David Weman 04.19.06 at 6:10 pm

I don’t think you realize how common it is, I would be surprised if less than a hundred blogs have been turned into books.


Simstim 04.19.06 at 8:25 pm

There was a compilation of stuff from a variety of British blogs put out at the end of last year in book format by Tim Worstall.


Susan 04.19.06 at 9:15 pm


T. Scrivener 04.20.06 at 12:12 am

This blog.


David Sucher 04.20.06 at 1:42 am

I’d have to do a lot of editing but I know that many of the posts at City Comforts, the blog would morph nicely in to a book.


David Sucher 04.20.06 at 1:48 am

And I mean in particular the older posts in the archives at City Comforts, the blog.

I have kinda run out of energy so the recent posts are not nearly as good as the older stuff.


Tim Worstall 04.20.06 at 5:25 am


Barry 04.20.06 at 8:13 am

“Didn’t Bill Whittle’s posts from Eject! Eject! Eject! get published in book format?”

Posted by Sebastian Holsclaw

A quick Amazon search didn’t find anything appropriate under ‘Whittle’, or ‘eject’.

In the case of that blog, timeliness wouldn’t be kind to him. I can’t find his archives, but his ‘tribes’ posting is hilarious – particularly when George ‘TANG Boy’ Bush is put in the Greys (the hardcore guys). OTHO, it’s probably a shoe-in for Regnery. Or anywhere else where people could write off New Orleans because supporting Bush demanded it.


SamChevre 04.20.06 at 8:30 am

Volokh Conspiracy, and WaiterRant


maurinsky 04.20.06 at 8:57 am

One Good Thing written by Flea is the blog/writer I would most like to see rewarded with a hefty book deal.


Jason Kuznicki 04.20.06 at 9:04 am

Real Live Preacher Gordon Atkinson writes great stuff and already has a book out.


Nat Whilk 04.20.06 at 11:03 am

Barry wrote:

A quick Amazon search didn’t find anything appropriate under ‘Whittle’, or ‘eject’.

Why doesn’t this count? (For Pete’s sake, it’s even advertised on his home page.)


Anderson 04.20.06 at 12:23 pm

Thanks, me2i81!


Barry 04.20.06 at 1:44 pm

Barry wrote:

A quick Amazon search didn’t find anything appropriate under ‘Whittle’, or ‘eject’.

Nat Whilk wrote:
“Why doesn’t this count? (For Pete’s sake, it’s even advertised on his home page.)”

I miswrote – I should have said a quick search for ‘Whittle, Bill’. And it was quick.

I went back to his website, and realized that I was seeing only the center and lefthand side (I set my fonts large). I scrolled over to the right-hand side, and saw that book advertised.

Which did give me the laugh of the day:
“If Steven Den Beste is Spock, then Bill is Captain Kirk” – James Lileks
That’s not the only possible trifecta (Instapundit could have been involed, or Hitchens, for example), but it was hilarious.


Barry 04.20.06 at 2:04 pm

Diverging from the actual topic of the post – thanks, Nat! Reading his old posts is frickin’ hysterical.


willie mink 04.20.06 at 10:31 pm

Biting Beaver writes bitchin’ rad feminism. I’ve long thought the two folks posting there should write a book.


Scott Eric Kaufman 04.21.06 at 12:06 am

To respond to Kevin, who said the Valve oughta become some books:

You just wait, Kevin, you just wait. John and I were talking about just that very topic before he passed out. (Jet lag from Singapore’s the pits, I hear tell.) We were also talking about collecting examples of academic humor which, by virtue of being written two or possibly even three years ago, have disappeared from blopular consciousness. Who wants to forget such brilliant brilliant (and humble) examples of the form?

(Seriously though, John and I were batting around the idea of capturing all those moments which threatened our keyboards with liquid refreshment from mouth and nose alike in a single volume that, by virtue of being printed on dead trees, wouldn’t have the potential to terrorize your keyboard.)


ArC 04.21.06 at 2:11 am

Former America’s Next Top Model contestant (what? quit looking at me like that) Elyse Sewell got her blog — actually quite entertaining — turned into a book, at least for the Asian market.


anna 04.22.06 at 1:02 am

Books and blogs together. Language Log is publishing books on their site sounds interesting. Now blogs turning into books. I will also try out hand in it. Got a great idea from this blog


coturnix 04.23.06 at 1:49 pm

The fist Blooker Prize has been announced a few weeks ago:

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