Thursday, March 03, 2005

The GOB in book form

A while back -- on 1 February, to be precise -- I immodestly pointed out that you can now buy the Grumpy Old Bookman in the form of a trade paperback. Through my own small press, Kingsfield Publications, I have taken the first six months or so of the GOB and had it printed up.

As I pointed out at the time, I do not expect many readers of this blog to rush over to Amazon and buy a copy, but it is at least available. The book consists of 130 posts from the first seven months of the GOB (March to September 2004), and so there is nothing in it that you cannot read for free by clicking over to the archives, in the column on your right. However, you may care to bear the existence of this book in mind when next you need a present for a bookish friend. He or she can always put it in the guest room; or the bathroom; because it is, as you will realise, composed of nice bathroom-sized pieces; for reading, that is.

There were two main purposes for publishing this book. The first was to enable me to send copies to newspapers and magazines in the UK. I don't expect any of them to review it, and so far none of them have, but I thought it might get a mention in a diary column here and there. Which it has. More of that in a minute.

The second reason for producing the material in paperback was to enable me to give copies to friends and relations who -- believe it or not -- don't actually have computers.

As to the press, I am grateful to the Literary Saloon for pointing out to me that the paperback GOB got a mention in the NB column in the Times Literary Supplement. And even more grateful to Golden Rule Jones for printing the whole passage, which goes as follows:

About once every five years, the death of print culture is announced. It has always surprised us how eager some folk are to see off the maggoty old book. The internet was supposed to have been the final nail in its coffin. As things have turned out, books and the internet have learned to coexist peaceably. Literary weblogs (blogs) are occasionally cheering and informative complements to the world of print and paper, but only a cyber-fanatic would now argue that they could replace it. More books are published than ever before. And it is notable that, while literary blogs feed off print culture, print culture is barely nourished by blogs.

Bloggers have the advantage of universality, but are casualties of transience. The signs are that they pine for the permanence of print. Michael Allen, author of the [GOB] blog... has just issued his dispatches in the form of a 300-page book, called Grumpy Old Bookman (Kingsfield, £12.99). And the Guardian recently gave a spread to Jessica [sic] Crispin, the brains behind "Yesterday I read a book that was so bad I ended up ranting to my boyfriend for ten minutes about the doomed nature of the publishing industry." In a clever bit of subversion, she was pictured peeping out from behind a big fat book.

Well, I don't know who has been going around saying that the internet is going to kill off the book, but it certainly ain't me. And as you see, I am accused of pining for the permanence of print, which is also untrue. As a matter of fact, the digital version of the GOB will probably be around longer than the paperback version.

Should you be remotely interested, Grumpy Old Bookman -- Essays & Criticism is available from either or, in both cases at a discount on the publisher's price.


Susan Abraham said...

You're no grumpy old bookman, Michael. I'll say that much.
In fact, you're really rather nice...

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