There's a chill in the U.S. publishing industry when it comes to blogging.
As we've been tracking down talented book-industry people to blog for the new Books section at HuffPost, we have found a troubling trend: hardly any book publishers were willing to write blogs. While enthusiasm for the new section abounded among those contacted, even people in the industry who originally promised to write for HuffPost backed out, claiming any number of reasons: overworked, no talent for blogging, too many other writing projects, and their bosses said "no"--with no reason given.
When it comes down to it, though, employees of large publishers may be wary after what happened to Jason Pinter, a former Random House editor who lost his job in 2007 because of a blog he kept. Pinter is now blogging for Huffington Post and enjoying success as a thriller writer.
Who has said yes? Authors. The great independent booksellers. Founders of new model publishers. Some cutting edge publicists. An agent or two. But from the traditional houses, the answer is mostly no, with the exception of Penguin, who is allowing one of its editors to work on this book page, and one lone blogging publisher from HarperCollins.
Industry bloggers do exist all over the web, but anonymously. They've come up with some interesting "noms de blog" such as Editorial Ass and The Intern. Editorial Ass goes by the handle Moonrat, even on the Facebook account.
The irony is that hardly any of these anonymous blogs give away company secrets or anything else that you'd think is proprietary. Most give general advice to aspiring writers and those who want to work in publishing. They write about what's going on in the book world, and what their lives are like in the editorial world.
The web provides a chance for everyone involved in creating and selling books to communicate directly with each other, to start a productive conversation that might lead to a great exchange of ideas, and maybe even change how things are done for the better. We hope some publisher will join in the fun.