Duke, Beacon, Amazon Join the Blogosphere

By Neal Comment

Working my way through the inbox, I found a message from Duke University Press about its recently launched blog, which compiles recent mentions of Duke authors in the press, along with recent awards. Then I heard from Beacon Press, which launched a site last month called Beacon Broadside, which features original essays from authors who are simply friendly to the press as well as the ones they publish, with each post open to comment.

For me, the two sites offer an object lesson in how to incorporate blogging capability into one’s publishing mission. There’s nothing really wrong with the Duke blog, but at the moment it’s basically a string of “in the news” items that, although they can be easily generated using a blog engine, don’t necessarily rise to the level of their own website. Beacon Broadside, on the other hand, is a site which uses the imprint’s passion for social justice as a starting point for its own engagement with readers. Obviously, on one level, the site exists to promote Beacon’s books, but it’s more than just an advertisement; it’s an entirely new conversation.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com has taken the blog produced by its book editors (among whose ranks I once numbered, back in the last century) and spun it off into its own domain at Omnivoracious.com. The team effort, described as “our space to talk books and publishing frankly,” isn’t that far off from the homegrown bookblogs that have broken out of the pack in their category over the last half-decade, except maybe in the widely eclectic subject matter, which runs from Nick Hornby to the new Where the Wild Things Are movie and then to James Lipton and a bevy of heroic fantasy writers. Oh, and they’ll change the banner every week, so readers can send photos of their bookshelves as potential backdrop images.

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