Raleigh, NC (October 10, 2005) — The world's first literary prize for books based on blogs, or "blooks," is being launched today by its sponsor, Lulu (www.lulu.com), a web site that enables anyone to publish and sell their own book.
The Lulu Blooker Prize (www.lulublookerprize.com) is the first contest to honor blooks, a hybrid literary form that has evolved in recent years from web sites, particularly the web sites known as blogs. "Blooks are the hottest new publishing trend," says Bob Young, CEO of Lulu. "So, the newest thing in publishing is... the oldest thing: the printed book, reinvented as the blook."
The prize will reward the best blooks in three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Comic-Blooks (based on web-comics), but with one overall winner. It is open to blooks published anywhere by anyone, provided they are in English.
Announcement of "The Blooker" — whose name is an affectionate nod to another important literary prize — marks the 450th anniversary of Gutenberg's invention of moveable type in 1455. "Blooks are the latest landmark in the history of books," says Young. "They represent a new stage of books, if not a whole new category of literature, with its own emerging literary style."
Cory Doctorow — noted author, speaker, and activist — will chair a team of three prominent Internet figures who will judge the inaugural prize. "Blogs encourage their authors to publish in small, partially formed chunks," says Doctorow. "Previously, such jottings might have been kept in the author's notebook, but something amazing happens when you post them online: readers help you connect them, flesh them out and grow them into fully-fledged books or blooks." Doctorow also co-edits BoingBoing (www.boingboing.net), the world's most linked-to blog.
Doctorow's acclaimed fiction and non-fiction books were all written using notes posted on his various blogs. "My novel-writing process is one of bricolage — of picking up little bits and pieces everywhere and combining them as I go. There are too many bits and pieces in my head to remember them. So, I write them down on my blog, where I also get feedback. I know of other writers who blog stuff as they go." His latest novel is Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (Tor Books), a contemporary, magic realist novel about wireless networking.
Doctorow's fellow judges are also Internet luminaries. Robin Miller is one of the creators of modern interactive journalism and, among other things, editor-in-chief of Slashdot (www.slashdot.org), the hugely influential technology blog. Paul Jones is the director of iBiblio (www.ibiblio.org) — a large, contributor-run digital library — and an author and internationally noted speaker.
One of the three Blooker Prize category winners will be selected as the overall winner. The prize money totals $4,000 — $1,000 for each of the category winners and $2,000 for the overall winner. "But the winner of the first prize also receives a little piece of literary immortality," points out Doctorow.
Although the prize is sponsored by Lulu, the judging is independent of Lulu. No favor will be shown to blooks published on Lulu.com. The Lulu Blooker Prize will take place annually. Winners will be announced April 3, 2006. Details for submitting blooks for the prize can be found at www.LuluBlookerPrize.com.
How Blooks Differ From Books
"Blooks differ from books in several ways," says Doctorow. Blooks, are, for example:
More Collaborative. Some blooks are written as the product of multiple voices and perspectives, filtered through discussions and feedback from online communities. Chris Anderson (longtail.typepad.com), editor of Wired magazine, is working on a much discussed book called The Long Tail (Hyperion 2006), which he is developing through a series of blog postings, feedback and online discussions.
Faster. Some blooks are written and published at great speed. An example is Katrina and the Lost City of New Orleans, a blook just published with help from Lulu. Written in less than ten days by Rod Amis, a journalist and (now former) New Orleans resident, it is the first blook to give an insider account of the New Orleans disaster. It draws heavily on a daily blog written by Amis as the disaster unfolded.
More Likely To Take A Serial Form. Some blooks, especially those based on online journals or diaries, take a serial form, which harks back to the Victorian heyday of the novel when Dickens and others first published their novels as serials. Belle de Jour is a good example.
Examples of Blooks
Although the word "blook" itself is new, scores of blooks have already been published. As the publishing industry catches on, the number is growing. "We already know of over 100 blooks — almost half produced by mainstream publishers," says Doctorow. "But this is just the start of something much bigger."
Grand publishing houses that were once proud to preach the sanctity of the printed book are now frantically mining blogs and web sites for the next big name author. Recent prominent blooks include titles as diverse as Salam Pax: The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi (Grove Press); Small Pieces Loosely Joined (Perseus Books), David Weinberger's spiritual interpretation of the Internet; actor Wil Wheaton's memoir Just a Geek (O'Reilly); and Jessica Cutler's The Washingtonienne (Hyperion), a novel based on her scandalous blog of the same name. More scandalous still is Belle de Jour: The Intimate Adventures Of A London Call Girl, by Anon. (Phoenix), which started life as an infamous blog, describing the life of a north London prostitute, and read by 15,000 a day.
At least one significant new publishing company has placed blooks at the heart of its publishing strategy, making it arguably the world's first dedicated "blook publisher". The Friday Project (www.thefridayproject.co.uk) is a London publishing house that bills itself as "a completely new breed of publishing house, specializing in turning the Internet's best-known brands into the world's finest books." Next month (November) sees the launch of its first three books.
What's more, Belle de Jour will soon be a film — or, strictly speaking, a "flook," as in a film based on a blook. So the question on fashionable lips may soon be, "Have you seen the flook of the blook?"
ABOUT LULU (www.lulu.com): Lulu is the world's fastest growing source of print-on-demand books. Founded by Bob Young, who previously co-founded Red Hat, the open source software company, Lulu provides independent publishers with free access to on-demand publishing tools for books, e-books, DVDs, music, images and calendars.