August 31, 2004

Authenticity And Bookselling

Dylan Kinnett is uncomfortable with weblogs whose mission is primarily to sell the author's books.

What I really want to read is something literary: notes on reading, writing, etc. and not something commercial.

But this can't be right. What writer is disinterested in their own work and their own audience? A dead writer! But what interests us in literary weblogs is that they aren't dead at all. They unfold every day.

The problem, really, is not that the weblogs are commercial, but that they can become untrue -- dishonest in their own terms. This, in the end, is also the core of the Cluetrain gambit: people don't mind your extolling what you really believe, but they hate it when you say things about your product that everyone knows are untrue.

I like to hear a writer explain why they wrote the book, and why it's important for me to read it. I'm much less happy about reading suborned reviews from the writer's friends and family, or snarky reviews of the author's rivals dumped onto amazon by anonymous "critics".