Friday, December 12, 2008

Gay books: bloggers, publishers, and Amazon!

Book blogs. Hit Google with the term and the search engine pops up 2,330,789 results.

Gay book blogs. Same procedure ... 236,348 results.

Hey, whaddaya know? The GLBTI community is reckoned to be about 1/10th of the community at large, and this is borne out completely by the Gay Book Blog numbers. Which is extremely cool.

Now, I realize that a lot of those Google results would be multiple pages for the same blog; and some results are going to be people talking about book blogs, rather than being blogs in and of themselves; and a majority of results will have keyed on "book" OR "blog" OR "gay" rather than both/all ... and by the time you get a few pages in, the actual pages seem to have little to do with gays, blogs, books, or anything else; but even so...

Large Numbers of people are blogging about books, and 10% of them are blogging about gay books. Why do I say large numbers? Because Google actually finds, and correctly lists, a surprisingly small fraction of what's really out there. The algorithms are quite good, they're not great -- yet. And they zero-out millions (billions?) of individual pages in error ... like this blog you're reading right now, which was zeroed-out for no reason, and remains so at the time of this writing.

The law of averages says there have to be about 10,000 book blogs out there; meaning, there's probably 1,000 gay book blogs, if you only knew where to find them. Now ... there have to be 10 people reading each of the the damned blogs for every person writing them, so that means the target marketplace for a new gay book should be something like 100,000 -- a thousand blogs, multiplied by 10 readers for each (who don't blog themselves), multiplied by another factor of ten, because 90% of the book buying public isn't addicted to blogging and wouldn't know where to find these blogs on a clear day with a map. 1,000 x 10 x 10. Right.

Those numbers are more than enough to make the antennae rise on any publisher's gnomish little head. And yet book sales across the board are poor; bookstores are going under, publishers are amalgamating to survive, and writers are finding it harder and harder either to find a publisher, or sell copies if they're self-marketing. What goes on?!

Well ... the Internet certainly giveth; and the Internet sure do taketh away! You can get virtually ANYTHING online, and it doesn't have to cost more than a couple of bucks, because someone, somewhere, is dying to sell a Shakespeare First Folio for $3.97. You go to The Goog and search on "whatever," and you know absolutely, positively, you can get one for a song.

Example: I've had people asking me when, when, WHEN I'm going to be reprinting AN EAST WIND BLOWING. And my response to this is, "why bother, when they're changing hands on Amazon for $3?!"

Check this out:

And the fact is, you can get any title, right back to the Gutenberg bloody bible.

I've been watching the progress of Aricia's new blog over the last week or two. I have to hand it to the kid: she's so far on top of the job, I'm impressed. In a few months, it will be a blog to remember: ... and right there, parked in the margin, is a widget. The "Mel Keegan at" widget.

AG is doing something fantastic, on the one hand: reviewing the great gay reads of yesteryear, putting them front and center right along with today's new releases. And at the same time, AG is one of those people who're (she's going to kick me in the butt for this) diverting readers from new books, by pointing them at the, uh, great gay reads of yesteryear, which you can buy for $3. Plus shipping.

There are not scores, but thousands of blogs doing the same act, and doing it well. AG's blog is already a knockout and she's only been going a couple of weeks -- and blogs are popping up which list not books, but other blogs! Check this out: -- The Book Bloggers. I ought to listed there. I expect AG will be there by the time I've finished typing this post. This site is, itself, a blog ... and every post they put up takes the form of a "meet a blogger" interview. A new one every day. And with thousands of book blogs out there, they're hardly likely to run out of subjects for posts. This is a great site -- visually plain, but remember that it's a clearing house for through-links; a staging post on your way to the blog you're actually going to be reading.

Gay book blogs are loads of fun, and some are strikingly beautiful. They're a great way to figure out what to invest in, and has made it incredibly easy to add the little widget things to the pages --

Like this ... one click, and it's done:

So, shopping has become easier than ever, and choice is becoming vast beyond belief, with the book blogs proliferating ... and, more power to them, seriously. Remarks made previously re: AG and bloggers like her, are strictly tongue-in-cheek, though this whole new "industry" is the boil on the bum of the big publishing industry!

One of the widgets you can get is a "search Amazon" panel, and you can apparently set the default search parameter yourself. AG set "gay fiction" and the little box says "Showing 1 - 5 of 7374 results for gay fiction in Books" ...

Woah. That's a lot of gay fiction. And some of it goes back a loooong way. For example, how'd you like to get Ann Rice's Cry to Heaven for .01c + shipping?! I'd forgotten about this book till I looked at AG's blog this morning. I mean, seriously -- Ann Rice, her best book, for a penny! The novel goes back about 25 years and is as good a read now as ever. I was mesmerized, way back when. A penny. Woah.

Let's see publishers in the Big Apple compete with that. The grinding sound you can hear right now is their teeth!

See also the "Publishing Series," which you can access in order, off this page:


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