Man Booker chairman moans about bloggers -again

Sir Peter Stothard is not a stupid man. He wouldn’t be  editor of the Times Literary Supplement or chairman of this year’s Man Booker Prize if he didn’t possess an above average level of intelligence. But he is sounding like a crass idiot with his continuing whining about the increasing number of mere mortals who blog about books.

Only a few days ago I posted about the way he castigated bloggers for engaging in an activity he sees as a threat to the status of literary criticism. His latest comments seem even more out of touch with reality. For now in an interview with The Radio Times he seems to suggest that the only topic of interest for book bloggers is what kind of book would be the best to take to the beach.

How out of touch can he be? Yes there are some discussions in forums like Good Reads along those lines but there are hundreds of other places including blog sites where people are talking about their experience of reading the great classics of literature or reading the Pullitzer prize winners. And there are plenty of discussions and sites about the Man Booker Prize. Would Sir Stothard rather us not shoe any interest in this despite the positive impact on sales when people hear about a potential winner and want to go and read it for themselves. Maybe the sponsors of the prize and the authors and book publishers wouldn’t be too happy to see sales suffer in these economic times.

Anyway, what’s wrong with people reading books on the beach? For many people this is part of their holiday experience and the mooch about the airport bookstore marks the start of downtime. Yes it would be marvellous if they all picked up Proust or James Joyce but it’s hardly likely. Nor is it likely that thousands of bloggers will stop sharing their passion and enthusiasm for particular authors – the popular and the esoteric alike. Maybe Sir Stothard should think more about how to engage these enthusiasts in discussions about literature rather than seek to denigrate them.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on October 9, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. it’s a bit of an odd argument he uses – if you apply it to other things beyond books, we’d buy certain records only because a DJ or music show presenter told us it was good; or buy a particular cut of meat because a chef said that was the best.

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  2. Sounds like he feels threatened. He wants only experts to have opinions, but that’s not the way life is. We all make choices everyday, and our choices can be influenced by those we trust, even if they aren’t experts in t he field.

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  3. I was at first impressed with Stothard’s vision for the 2012 longlist, but after he aired out his views on book bloggers, I couldn’t get myself to respect him in spite of his editorship and various literary achievements. It just feels off.

    And obviously, he has not looked around the book blogging sphere.

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