Blurring the Blook Boundaries

In my book, I call them anti-books, the print objects thrown together by publishers to make a quick buck on some theme-du-jour. According to the New York Times, blogs are increasingly a source for those. It recounts the story of  Pets Who Want to Kill themselves, a gimmick blog:

The blogosphere noticed — and so did the publishing world. Within a week, he was contacted by editors and literary agents. By the second month, he said, he had sold a book based on the photos to Three Rivers Press

But that’s not all – in a crossover with that other web 2.0 theme of user-generated content, it appears that publishers are all-a-twitter (get it?) over mere ideas that have spawned content from its users:

At least eight books created from user-generated content are due out this year, including “Love, Mom,” a just-published collection of embarrassing or funny electronic exchanges between mothers and their children.

I’ve always said I have no problem with anti-books, except when publishers devote attention to their creation at the expense of other, more worthwhile projects; books that make some contribution to the human conversation beyond filling the coffers. After all, this content *already exists* and in wider distribution than a printed book would allow. Is it really worth killing trees for?

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