When we look back on 2016 it is going to be remembered as the year of The Donald; the year we lost everyone from Prince to Florence Henderson to Bowie; and in a smaller way 2016 should also be remembered as the year that book industry blogs took a beating.
Several blogs have either shut down, scaled back operations, or radically shifted their focus this calendar year.
While any one of these blogs was a relatively small fry in the grand scheme of things, collectively their demise left a huge hole in the news coverage for the book industry.
The carnage started in February of this year when I announced that I was stepping back from this blog. Advertising was no longer paying what it used to, so I had to find a day job.
The next to go was BookSlut, which shut down in May. Founded in 2002 by Jessa Crispin, that site was one of the first book blogs ever, but it was sadly subject to the same financial woes afflicting web publishing today: it couldn't make any money.
Crispin told Vulture that "when I realized the sacrifices I was going to have to make in order for it to make money, it wasn’t worth it" and that
It’s just a really slow process. Running it takes a lot of time, and it makes no money so I’ve been pouring money into it for 14 years. We always were trying to figure out ways to keep it going. I had a meeting with my managing editor and we went through all these ideas and nothing seemed viable and we said, “Oh, we should just close it, shouldn’t we?”
BookSlut was followed a couple months later by Teleread, a site which was literally the oldest ebook blog on the web.
Teleread founder David Rothman had only just bought the site back from Napco in May 2015, but was forced to shift the site to Wordpress.com in June 2016.
While Teleread lives on, it is but a shadow of its former self, with fewer contributors and less frequent postings. As with Bookslut and The Digital Reader, the root cause was money (I know lots more, but it was shared privately so I cannot repeat it).
The next to go was IndieReader. This seven-year-old site announced (PDF) last Monday that it was essentially shutting down its book review blog in favor of its author services division.
Amy Edelman told me by email that IR would "cease posting reader-centric editorial content and IndieReader Author Services (IRAS), IR’s sister company, will assume IndieReader’s URL", and that
In its new iteration, IR will focus its full attention on helping self-published authors produce books that can compete in today’s more crowded publishing marketplace. Dffering significantly from companies that offer packages emphasizing the “bells and whistles”.
And finally, GalleyCat abruptly shut down on Friday. Editor Dianna Dilworth did not explain why the blog shut down, merely saying that:
We are sad to report that we are closing the book on GalleyCat.
We thank you for your support and readership over the years. Over the past decade, it’s been our mission to keep you informed with news from publishers, authors, booksellers and libraries. We’ve had the pleasure of reading thousands of fantastic books and reviewing many of them along the way.
GalleyCat makes five book industry sites which have closed, scaled back operations, or shifted their focus - all in the space of a calendar year.
Edit: And as a reader reminded me, there's also SF Signal. That blog shut down in May 2016. (Thanks, David!)
With about two weeks left in the year, what are the chances that 2016 will claim another victim?
image by dreamsjung