Robert Gray, a bookseller in Northshire, Vermont and the blogger behind Fresh Eyes: A Bookseller’s Journal, is leaving the day-to-day book business. He’s opening a consulting firm that will help publishers and authors interface with bookstores and the public.
He’s not the first blogger to start a business aimed at increasing sales and the shelf-life of books. M.J. Rose, a mystery/thriller author and the writer of Buzz, Balls and Hype, started something called AuthorBuzz a few months ago. Basically it’s a targeted e-mail campaign from novelists to bookstore owners around the country.
What’s interesting is that these two people began writing about the flaws they saw in the publishing world. At first, their observations were mostly confined to their blogs. But their thoughts galvanized them to take action. M.J. started an on-line class on book publicity and then added AuthorBuzz. Gray is now trying to close a hole he sees in the business – the disconnect between the publisher and the booksellers, whose “handselling” often makes the difference between success and failure.
There’s a lot of talk about how blogging can increase your visibility, raise your profile, etc. That happens for some people. But I think the main merit of blogging is that it gives people a VOICE. It diminishes feelings of powerlessness. And Robert Gray and M.J. Rose’s new businesses are expressions of the way blogs can empower people.