Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011: Every Day I Write the Book? (or the Website?)

With the NEASA conference (less than two weeks away now—still time to register through, or at least check out the pre-conference blogging!) and the American Writers Museum work taking up a good bit of my time these days, and teaching and all other things Fitchburg State taking up a good bit more, and those two junior AmericanStudiers (pictured) taking up, well, all the rest, to say that I haven’t had a lot of time to focus on longer-term projects, and specifically on my book plans, would be an understatement. But while any significant work on my ongoing third book manuscript—about which I blogged here—is going to have to wait until the summer, I’ve been thinking a lot as well lately about ways to bring some of the work I’ve done in this space to new audiences and venues; specifically, I’ve been considering two main options: an e-book, with extended and more hypertext-y versions of these posts, perhaps organized around a year of AmericanStudies reading; or a website, with different categories of archived posts, a range of possible links and multimedia sections, and space for readers to add their voices and ideas.

I can see some immediate arguments for each of these two: the e-book would reflect what I see as the relatively in-depth nature of these pieces and the experience of reading them, while still allowing for readers to connect to the different links (and even more in a hypertext-y style), to move between different posts more smoothly, and otherwise to build their own reading experience while being guided by some of my main ideas; whereas the website would be a more fully interactive and reader-driven project, one through which individual readers could certainly connect to and read at length particular posts, but which would make multimedia and multitextual and multivocal conversations a lot more fully possible and present. The website would of course be free, which has plenty of obvious and real benefits; but working on the e-book would force me to think actively about how I turn this blog’s work into something more focused and marketable and thus, I believe, allow me to work on connecting it to new audiences and conversations. This choice is not necessarily either-or, of course, but on the other hand I don’t necessarily want to spend a ton of time working on one of these options if I’m eventually (and perhaps more ultimately) going to create the other one.
Obviously this process and decision is mine to wrestle with, and I apologize if this is getting a bit too inside baseball. But I wanted to write a post about this possible next steps, not only to allow me to figure out some of these ideas by writing about them, but also and more importantly because I’d greatly value any and all feedback my readers and fellow AmericanStudiers might have: not only because you’re a smart bunch, but also because of course you’d be great models for potential readers and responders to either or both of those next versions of this blog, and so I’d be especially interested to hear what sounds like it would be the most interesting, engage you all the most, or otherwise what you’d say in response to these two ideas. So please feel free to express your perspective in comments, or to email me your thoughts (

More tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled programming,

PS. No links, but I suppose I do have two more questions: are there any e-books that you have found particularly good at engaging you as a reader? And any scholarly (broadly defined!) websites that have done the same?

1 comment:

  1. Hey Ben, As an initial reaction, I think I like the e-book idea. It would be interesting to see you transform all of this diverse thinking into a marketable, cohesive product. Ultimately, I think it would need a catchy hook. I'll let you know if I come up with any ideas for that last part.