Big Blook Hunting

doe body with jessica Grose's headThe blook, a hokey portmanteau referring to a book that originated as a blog or Web site, has mostly been a retail disappointment; titles head straight for the ironic sale bin at Urban Outfitters. But that hasn't stopped mainstream publishers such as Penguin, Hyperion and Random House from throwing stacks of cash at bloggers like Christian Lander, for a book based on Stuff White People Like, and most recently (though the stack was considerably smaller) at Jessica Grose and Doree Shafrir for Postcards From Yo Momma.

SWPL has an existing, loyal reader base, it's hilarious, and it may sell. But success has been elusive for most blooks. Only the vulgar, positively disgusting short-story writer Tucker Max ever cracked the Times best-seller list. More often blooks go the way of The Truth About Chuck Norris.

Now, I'm no literary critic, but a sampling of PFYM leaves me wondering what Hyperion could be thinking. Do gems like "Berlin is grandiose and fascinating ... Love Mom," and "I went by and bought me a SKINNY LATTE - Sugar Free Cinnamon Dolce (Tall). I added 1 Splenda package. Oh my God! Was that good ... Love you, Mom," beg for hardcover treatment? Sweet notes from someone's mom, sure, but must we fell trees so someone can flip through them on the subway?

The Lulu Blooker Prize, a far cry from the Mann Booker Prize, annually recognizes the best blooks in fiction, nonfiction and comics. (Lulu is a print-on-demand company.) Consider John Kennedy Toole, who, after writing arguably the funniest novel of the American century, couldn't find a publisher and killed himself. Is it possible the blook would have saved his life? Or would Toole be lost among the heaps of hyperlinks on Lulu and iUniverse?
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