Paul Jones Chairs International Panel to Judge Best Books From Blogs -- Blooker Prize Sponsor Ups Top Prize to $10,000

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The Blooker Prize (http://www.lulublookerprize.com), the world’s first literary prize for books based on blogs or websites -- “blooks” -- has named an international line-up of judges for its 2007 prize and upped the first prize to $10,000. Julie Powell, winner of the first Blooker Prize with “Julie and Julia”, joins Arianna Huffington, the noted columnist and blogger, India’s Rohit Gupta and the UK’s Nick Cohen, on a panel chaired by Paul Jones, director of iBiblio.org. The announcement comes the week that the world total of blogs passes 50 million.

The Lulu Blooker Prize (http://www.lulublookerprize.com), the world’s first literary prize for books based on blogs or websites -- “blooks” -- has announced an international line-up of judges for its 2007 prize, plus a five-fold increase in its top prize.

The five judges -- up from three last year -- include the world’s most famous “blauthor” (blook author), an internet pioneer, a top British newspaper columnist, an Indian “sidewalk philosopher” and a well-known pundit -- political author, media personality and blogger Arianna Huffington.

  • Paul Jones (http://www.ibiblio.org/pjones/wordpress/), chair of the judges and a noted speaker, heads up the digital library iBiblio.org at the University of North Carolina.
  • Arianna Huffington, the Washington and LA-based syndicated columnist, author, radio host, blogger, edits http://www.thehuffingtonpost.com, one of the world’s top 10 blogs.
  • Julie Powell (http://juliepowell.blogspot.com), a Texan-born New Yorker, became the world’s most famous “blauthor” (blook author) earlier this year when her blook “Julie and Julia” received global attention on winning the 2006 Blooker Prize.
  • Rohit Gupta (http://algomantra.blogspot.com), a Bombay-based “sidewalk philosopher,” is also a blogger, journalist and author.
  • Nick Cohen (http://www.nickcohen.net), the London-based author and blogger, also writes for The Observer and The New Statesman.

Lulu (http://www.lulu.com), the self-publishing web site that sponsors the prize, is also upping the prize money from $4,000 last year to $15,000 and the first prize from from $2,000 to $10,000, placing the Blooker on a par with some major literary prizes. $2,500 goes to each of the two blooks that wins a category but not the overall prize.

“When we first announced Blooker Prize last year, some forecast it would be a one-year wonder,” says Bob Young, CEO of Lulu.com. “But now the Blooker is back, bigger and stronger than before.”

The upstart literary genre continues to gain new respect. Paul Jones, chair of the judges, adds: “Blooks reflect joint passions of both the writer and the readers, sometimes to the point of obsession and beyond. They take us back to a golden age of writing and publishing in serial form, when the readers interacted with the writer as a cheering section, as a rowdy group of editors and critics, as fact-checkers, as support systems and as conversationalists -- even, in a way, as therapists to the author.”

The announcement of the new Blooker judges comes the same week that http://www.technorati.com, the web’s leading search engine for blogs, will reach the landmark figure of 50 million blogs being tracked. Some estimates put the total number of blogs even higher.

The Blooker -- whose name is an affectionate nod to another important literary prize -- is open to any blook published anywhere by anyone, making it both the largest and, geographically at least, most eclectic literary prize in the world. Entries must be published in English and fall into one of three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and web-comics.

A blog or web-log is narrowly defined as an online diary but blogs increasingly take diverse forms. Blogs are the fastest-growing kind of new media. In April 2006 Technorati reported that the size of the blogosphere doubles every 6 months, and that, on average, a new blog is created every second of every day (nearly 90,000 a day). Meanwhile, a growing number of bloggers are now publishing traditional, printed books or “blooks.”

Authors from over a dozen countries entered the inaugural prize. The announcement of the latter’s results in April attracted global attention. “We were staggered by the interest,” says Bob Young of Lulu.com, which invented the prize. “Blooks are the new books -- a hybrid literary form at the cutting edge of both literature and technology.”

Although the Blooker is sponsored by Lulu.com, the judging is independent and no favor is shown to blooks published on Lulu.com.

The inaugural Blooker prize was won by "Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen," by Julie Powell, a Texan-raised New Yorker. Powell’s blook began life as a blog or online diary, chronicling her bid to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's classic 1961 cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Powell’s blog (http://blogs.salon.com/0001399) built a cult readership (“bleadership”). The resulting blook, published in 2005, has sold over 100,000 copies and is being developed into a film or “flook”, by Nora Ephron, the “queen of romcom” (“When Harry Met Sally”, “You've Got Mail”, “Sleepless in Seattle”).

Lulu (http://www.lulu.com), a self-publishing website which lets anyone publish either a book or blook at no up-front cost, launched the Blooker in October 2005 to mark the 450th anniversary of Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in 1455. “Blooks are the latest landmark in the history of books,” says Young. “They are a new stage in the life-cycle of content, if not a whole new category of literature, with its own creative process and emerging literary style. You might call them Gutenberg’s revenge.”

The rapid growth in the number of blooks reflects, on the one hand, the growth of the blogosphere and of the net as a whole, and, on the other, the growing ease and simplicity of turning the contents of a blog or website into a blook.

BLOOKER PRIZE MONEY PRIZE MONEY

  • Total prize = US $15,000 (approx GBP £8,175 or Euro 11,800)
  • The winner in each category receives US $2,500
  • An additional sum of US $7,500 goes to the Overall Winner, who gets a total prize of US $10,000 (approx GBP £5,400 or Euro 7,800). In short…
  • First/Overall Prize = US $10,000 (approx GBP £5,400 or Euro 7,800).

BLOOKER DATES

Entry deadline - Monday, January 15, 2007

Short-list announced - Monday, March 12, 2007

Winners announced - Monday, May 14, 2007

WINNERS OF THE 2006 LULU BLOOKER PRIZE

Overall (And Non-Fiction) Winner – Julie Powell for "Julie & Julia"

Fiction - Cherie Priest for "Four and Twenty Blackbirds"

Web-Comics - Zach Miller for "Totally Boned: A Joe and Monkey Collection"

ABOUT LULU (http://www.lulu.com): Lulu is the world's fastest growing source of print-on-demand books. Founded by Bob Young, who previously co-founded Red Hat, the open source software company, Lulu provides independent publishers with free access to on-demand publishing tools for books, e-books, DVDs, music, images and calendars.

  • BLOOKER PRIZE DETAILS IN FULL (and submission guidelines):

http://www.lulublookerprize.com

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