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October 12, 2005

The Lulu Blooker Prize (and a little controversy)

Lulu, a print-on-demand publisher, has announced the Lulu Blooker Prize for the best fiction, non-fiction and comic blooks.  Not surprisingly since they are a publisher, the rules define a blook as “…a bound and printed book based on either a blog or website — that has been published to date (i.e. by the entry deadline).”  In other words, blooks which exist only on the web need not apply. 

It’s their contest so they get to set the rules.  hackoff.com should exist in a printed edition by then so I will enter.

The blook tour which is being sponsored by the hackoff.com team is  open to all books which are available on the web – no print edition required.  I do think that blooks which are successful on the web will probably have paper as well as podcast editions. Different people like to read in different ways.  Some do their reading on the beach, others on a computer, some on a PDA.  Others prefer to listen.  Choice is good.

Print-on-demand (POD) is also a good thing.  This technology and business model allows authors to publish their own books for a nominal upfront cost.  Actual copies are only produced as required so there is no danger of a moldy inventory of books (yuk!) and no need to pay to build inventory.  New authors are frequent users of POD as are authors who want to keep their books in print even when their publishers have decided to let them go out of print.  POD may eventually put the concept of out-of-print out of business.

The drawbacks to POD include quality not quite as good as offset (but most people won’t care), a reluctance by reviewers (aka gatekeepers) to review, and a higher cost per copy for books that sell in large quantities – which most books don’t. 

hackoff.com is NOT being published as POD but that is strictly a business decision.  We have reason to think there’s demand and can afford the investment to build inventory and lower the per unit cost. If POD had existed earlier, I might have been an author sooner.  POD, like the web, is democratizing publishing and eliminating gatekeepers.

The controversy is over the definition of “blook”. A post on Lulu Blooker Blog  says:

“A bit of controversy has arisen over the term 'blook' itself, which turns out to have not one (see today's post on the blog Greg Writes), but at least two prior claimants. One of them has managed to get his version of the etymology listed in the Wikipedia (at least until the editors get to work). But a more credible, and complete, history of the word shows up on the blog Tonypierce.com, who credits the original term to the inimitable Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine.”

I have to confess that I am the anonymous “claimant”. I DID give credit to Tony Pierce and Jeff Jarvis here for inventing the term first. In fact, AdRANTs accuses Lulu of ignoring the two originators of the term here.

Someone wrote the entry in wikipdia entirely independently of me. I DID revise the entry because it gave me credit for inventing the term which was wrong. I revised it further today to add the Lulu Blooker Prize, some new blooks which I’ve become aware of, and to give more explicit credit to Jeff and Tony. BTW, the “editors” of wikipedia are us.  I’d suggest anyone who thinks an article is inaccurate, incomplete, or self-serving just go and edit it.

I must confess that I did write the definition of blook in wiktionary, the dictionary companion to wikipedia. There I gave all three of the meanings that I’m aware of:

  1. A book serialized on a blog (weblog) platform.

  2. A book about blogging.

  3. A printed book containing content which first appeared on a blog.

This is a silly controversy. It’s not even interesting enough to “sell” blooks. My bet is that the term “blook” will continue to include both those books which have a traditional printed edition and those which appear only in web form. Print-on-demand lowered the hurdle to publication, especially for first-time authors. Online publication, especially on blogs, has lowered it even further.  The result is wider choice of both content and media for everyone.

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