How [not] to make a book from your blog

By Andrew Smith

A couple of things happened recently which got me reading again:

  1. A book arrived at the library that I asked for about 6 month ago. “Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff between Privacy and Security”, by Daniel Solove. I’ve heard of it on an interview Moira Gunn had with the author.
  2. I started reading Garth Turner’s Greater Fool blog, and got all of his books they had at the library, this post is about “Greater Fool: The troubled future of real estate”.

Both of these books have been heavily based on the respective author’s prior work. Mostly essays by Solove and blog posts by Turner.

Despite the fascinating topic and great ideas and decent essays – Solove’s book is simply awful. From the introduction where he said “you can read the chapters in any order” I got suspicious, a few chapters in I realised this is not a book, it’s simply a collection of unrelated essays. Despite the author’s claim that he rewrote a lot of the stuff I saw no evidence of cohesion in either narrative or logic.

Turner on the other hand did a great job practically making an entire book out of blog posts. The content is the same but it’s been rewritten and carefully arranged into chapters, with select quotes from blog posts that brought a perceivable timeline to the story. Having been reading his works for a while I am comfortable claiming that he’s using the hammer the message technique, but whether that’s true or not, good or bad, I actually finished his book because it was so much better put together than Solove’s.

Perhaps academics aren’t as skilled as former (journalist+politician)s at putting books together, or perhaps Turner is better at it than Solove. I don’t know. I do recommend that if you’re considering making a book out of your blog – read these two and see the difference between a good one and a bad one.