Bloggers move backwards, jumping from screen to pageHow old is the practice of writers putting together their first book by culling previous material they had published in magazines? Consider that “Sketches by Boz,” the first book by Charles Dickens, was a collection of stories that he had published in magazines under the pseudonym “Boz,” starting in 1833. More than 170 years later, the practice is still alive and healthy, though with a twist. Instead of magazine articles, writers are compiling books culled from posts on their Web logs, or blogs. The result? “Blooks.”
A number of blooks have been published, on just about every subject imaginable: cooking, interior design, dieting, art, trips and “human living.” Some have actually been profitable.
Some of the best-selling blooks have been cookbooks, no doubt because it’s a bad idea to take a laptop into the kitchen. One of the most popular “cookblooks” is “Making a Meal on Only 2,000 Won,” about $2, based on the personal blog of Kim Yong-hwan. The book has sold more than 580,000 copies since its first sale in 2003. When Mr. Kim first started his blog, he was a freelance Web designer. He tried to keep his food budget at only 2,000 won per meal, but he still wanted to eat good, healthy food. Having lots of spare time on his hands, he posted simple recipes on his blog, complete with photos of the finished products. Suddenly, the blog was a sensation, and the blook has been topping the charts.
Another popular blook is “Beautiful Accompaniment of a Country Doctor.” Based on the blog of Park Young-chul, a surgeon, around 100,000 copies of the book have been sold so far. Seo Geum-seon, an editor at Woongjin, the book’s publisher, said that it didn’t take long to publish the book because it had already been written by the time Woongjin decided to release it.
The ease of writing a blook is one of the big selling points for publishers. After all, it’s already been written.
Another strong point is that because the blogs already have a number of steady readers, the book requires little marketing.
“It was easy to promote ‘The Eccentric Bakery of Little Witch,’” said Kim Hyun-sook, chief editor of Kpub. The cookbook, based on a blog on the Web portal Daum.net, has sold more than 3,000 copies since it was published in April. As the blogger already had a great number of fans and was writing for other famous Web sites, Kpub didn’t need to spend much on marketing.
Ms. Kim said, however, that she sees a limit in the sales of blooks, saying that their popularity is usually inflated.
“Usually, the blog’s fans buy the book. But as soon as all fans buy a copy, the blook no longer has the momentum to compete with other books,” she said.
Hong Suk-young, a spokesperson for Kyobo Book, a chain bookseller, said blooks are still in a formative stage. “There are not many blooks that have succeeded in terms of sales,” he said. Nearly only “Making a Meal With Only 2,000 won” are included in the bestseller section of the bookstores’ list, but other blooks are not doing as well.
“If you buy a book, you want to get in-depth information from it,” said Mr. Hong. “Blooks are a new, good concept to stir up some interest, but in order for the blook to settle down as a genre in the publishing world, it should have in-depth content, not just entertaining content for a one-time read.”
by Park Sung-ha