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Books from blogs vie for new literary prize

After prizes for books and prizes for blogs come prizes for books based on blogs.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 17:27 IST

The world's first literary prize for books based on blogs unveiled its shortlist of finalists on Wednesday, with a London call girl and an amateur chef's cooking odyssey among the contenders.

The Blooker Prize, whose name gives a nod to the publishing industry's prestigious Booker Prize, puts a spotlight on the growing market of unknown writers finding a wider following for their everyday passions and observances.

"There is genuinely a trend in publishing of bloggers adapting the material that they've originally published on the Web into book form," said Stephen Fraser, a spokesman for digital do-it-yourself publishing house Lulu, the prize's sponsor.

"It's a natural evolution, a genuine publishing phenomenon and publishers are building projects around it," he added.

The popular Belle de Jour blog by a London call girl was transformed into a printed bestseller and is on the Blooker non-fiction shortlist.

Warner Book Group's Little, Brown imprint last year published the critically acclaimed Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, another Blooker finalist that began as one woman's blog about her attempt to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

In another sign of the trend, a former journalist and a publishing executive teamed up last year to start the Friday Project, a firm dedicated to combing the Internet for blogs that might be transformed into published books.

A total of 89 so-called blooks from Africa to Australia were considered for the Blooker Prize, and 16 were shortlisted in three categories: fiction, non-fiction and Web comics. An overall winner will receive $2,000 while the other two category toppers will take home $1,000 each.

The winners will be announced on April 6.

"Everything happened accidentally for me," said Russell Davies, who wrote about greasy spoon diners in the Blooker finalist Egg Bacon Chips and Beans: 50 Great Cafes and the Stuff That Makes Them Great.

"It was just something that I enjoyed doing," he said in an interview with the BBC news Web site. "Publishers approached me and asked me to do a book on my blog. Obviously, I said yes."

Some of the entries were published by Lulu, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, but it says the three judges, including the editor of tech blog, are independent.

Among the fiction finalists are a collection of stories called Africa Fresh! New Voices from the First Continent and Gus Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal by Keith Thomson.

Officials from the Booker Prize, which awards an annual£50,000 ($86,970) prize to the best book of the year from British, Irish and Commonwealth writers, could not be reached to comment on the similarity of the prize names.

"We haven't heard from them," Fraser said. "I think no one is likely to mistake our prize for the Booker Prize."

First Published: Mar 09, 2006 17:27 IST