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Are Bloggers the New Pamphleteers?

BY Ari Melber | Monday, October 30 2006

Many people have compared bloggers to the pamphleteers who wrote political screeds during the American revolution. A new venture is taking that idea a step futher, turning a few bloggers into literal pamphleteers by publishing printed blog digests.

The New Pamphleteer
has a mission “to reinvent the book for the 21st Century” by printing political and literary essays that combine the immediacy of blogging with permanence of print – for a fraction of the cost of a book. Their first digest, collected from blogs covering this year’s “Hezbolah War,” retails at four dollars for 80 pages.

Then again, that’s four dollars more than it costs to read blogs. Adam Bellow, a book editor and former literary editor of National Review, leads the project and recently told me via email why it’s worth the price:

“The blogosphere has matured to the point where many people in the educated public understand its importance. But they still don't know their way around it and aren't going to invest the many hours it would take to become a discriminating blog-navigator. That's where we come in. As professional book editors, we supply the editorial filter that everyone complains is missing from the internet. Our mission is to screen, collate and publish the best--and the worst!--of the blogosphere in the form of a pamphlet series--pamphlets being for obvious reasons the most appropriate form for this purpose.”

The first three pamphlets run the gamut from Michael J. Totten’s dispatches from Beirut, political bloggers across the world and the words of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Bellow believes the blogosphere’s energy and diversity makes it fun, while “no one is having fun these days in corporate publishing, or in most of our other big cultural industries.” He assured me the New Pamphleteer will be “serious fun.”

Bloggers like Glenn Greenwald, Jerome Armstrong and Glenn Reynolds have made successful transitions to writing books, but it will be interesting to see if there is an audience out there for simply reproducing blogs on the printed page.