Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pointless, Incessant, Barking

Every time I think of blogging I remember the only New Yorker cartoon that has ever made me laugh. There are two dogs and the first dog says, "I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to pointless, incessant barking." On the other hand, Melville liked to throw around the quote "All is Vanity, All." and most of what he wrote after Moby Dick was considered pointless, incessant barking at the time, so maybe that isn't such a bad thing after all. Maybe the only reason I remember this cartoon is the fact that it is posted by the bathroom sink in the employee restroom at Warwick's, which is technically in my 'office' (A future blog post?).

So what exactly is a book blog suppossed to do? Back in the day folks had the literary salon, the Bloomsbury Group, the Algonquin Round Table, etc. Nowadays, rather than authors haunting bookstores, they are posting on their website and tweeting as they write. We have such bizarrely named places as the Book Slut and the Book Catapult. The web is full of great places to talk books, but for me it just isn't the same. James Joyce isn't loitering at Shakespeare and Co. anymore, he's in a chat room for two hours mediated by his publicist. I am not completely cynical, however.

More experienced bloggers than I have ironically bemoaned the death of culture in their culture blogs, but I think they would be heartened if they spent some time at Warwick's (the physical entity). It's not like a big box store where people are strewn about the floor, not a staff member within shouting distance, it's a place where customers interact with the staff and, most importanly, talk about books- what they're reading, what they've liked. Each recommends card our staff members write and place next to a book reaches just as many readers as any blog post or tweet. It's a lot like a blog with instant feedback- a blog without the anonymous nature of the interaction. It's great to see people posting comments about what you've written, but nothing can replace the pride you feel in the store when a customer comes back trusting your taste and wants you to tell them what to read next. In fact, the entire staff are potential bloggers and don't even know it. It's actually impossible to blog about books in the building without three or four co-workers interrupting to talk to you about books. I know this is true as well at the many great Independents just in Southern California- Vroman's, Book Soup, DG Wills - which is just down the street and is close as you're going to get to Sylvia Beech's store in 2009.

So for me this book blog is like getting the home version of Jeopardy after you've been on the show. It can't ever replace the face to face interaction with staff and actual, physical books, but it's a great place to trade ideas and to incessantly bark about the books I believe in. I hope that any readers we are lucky enough to have will come down and meet us face to face, and I hope that my co-workers, who are always talking shop, will share some of their insights on this blog.
So there it is, I'm officially a book blogger. Now I just have to find a good book to read. Any suggestions?

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