Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

BOOK REVIEWS....Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Tyler and David are wondering why book publishers don't send review copies of books to bloggers. I've wondered the same thing myself.

After all, bloggers have very focused readerships with great demographics. If you've written a political book with a liberal bent, sending review copies to the top ten or twenty liberal political blogs seems like a cheap and targeted way of getting a bit of publicity from people who are naturally inclined to like your book. And how much can it cost?

(Good question. How much can it cost, Patrick?)

What brought this to mind recently is that at least one writer has figured this out: Arianna Huffington, a person who's long been on the frontlines of self-promotion. She sent copies of her new book, Fanatics and Fools, to a bunch of bloggers, and even included a cover letter specifically aimed at us. Will it do any good? Who knows. I haven't read the book yet.

And if I do, will I like it? Hard to say. Here's a paragraph from the cover letter:

That's where bloggers come in. Every time the party hacks advise "triangulation," "running to the middle," and focusing on swing voters the failed strategies of 2000 and 2002 bloggers can highlight this alternative big vision strategy....

Well. Seems to me that that strategy worked pretty well in 1992 and 1996, and I've been known to recommend it myself a time or three. But who knows? Maybe Arianna will convince me I'm wrong. In any case, she's got a lot better chance of doing it by sending me a book than she does if she didn't.

POSTSCRIPT: She describes the leadership of the Democratic party as a bunch of "dithering poltroons." A nice phrase, no? Marian read this and asked, "What's a poltroon? Does it have anything to do with poultry?"

Ha ha. But where does it come from? From Webster's New World Dictionary:

pol troon (pl troon') n. [Fr. poltron < It. poltrone, coward < poltro, colt < VL. *pulliter, prob. < pullus, young animal, chick: see POULTRY] a thorough coward.

So it's related to poultry after all. You learn something new every day.

Kevin Drum 12:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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