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Blogging for book deals -- on Tumblr this time

October 16, 2013|By Emily Keeler
  • Two books coming this fall that started out as blogs on Tumblr.
Two books coming this fall that started out as blogs on Tumblr. (Tumblr )

This post has been correced. Please see note at bottom for details.

Humans of New York, a Tumblr blog featuring portraits of New Yorkers from all walks of life, is now a book. The HONY Tumblr blog is followed by more than a million users. Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the project, has been taking photos of New Yorkers since the summer of 2010. The book "Humans of New York," featuring more than 400 color photographs and original interviews with strangers on the street about their lives, is just one of 10 books based on Tumblr blogs being released this fall.

The blogging platform served as an incubator for illustrator and music critic Shea Serrano's project, the widely anticipated "Bun B's Jumbo Coloring and Rap Activity Book." Serrano started posting images of rap stars illustrated in classic coloring book style, and legendary rapper Bun B curated a selection for the book deal. Fans can now color inside the lines of hip-hop greats Biggie, Tupac, Jay Z, Drake, Ice-T, Queen Latifah, and Questlove.

Other Tumblr blog-to-book-deals feature poetry, celebrity gossip, fairy tales, a cookbook and more than one single-note anthology of silly animal memes -- Dog Shaming and Cat Reviewing, respectively.

The social media platform encourages users to blog and highlights recent book deals through an official Tumblr run blog and moderated tag. In addition to blogs spawning books, Tumblr is increasingly a place where already established, well-published writers base their own blogs and participate in the network's literary community. In January 2012, Tumblr hired Rachel Fershleiser and tasked her with literary outreach; in addition to her online duties, she has organized readings and meet-ups to bring the online community together IRL.

Earlier this year, Tumblr CEO David Karp said that about 70 Tumblr users have landed book deals based on their blogs, though he also said that the company was not using this stat as a metric of its success. Probably a good thing, as 70 out of Tumblr's estimated 50 million users is not exactly a high ratio.

While previous blog-to-book-deals have raised the ire of some commenters (notably GQ's Sean Fennessy, way back in the "Sh*t My Dad Says" era of 2010), the numbers alone would indicate that there's more going for these books -- even the memeiest ones -- than simply having started out as Tumblr blogs. At least "Bun B's Jumbo Coloring and Rap Activity Book" is evidence that C.R.E.A.M. still sometimes rises to the top.

[Update, 12:10 p.m. Oct. 16: An earlier version of this post misspelled Shea Serrano's name as Serran.]


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