NEW YORK--Tuesday night was the first time I'd been to a digital-media-related event at a bookstore, unless you count the time that Google threw a conference at the New York Public Library.
It was the launch party for girly e-newsletter DailyCandy's new book, The DailyCandy Lexicon: Words That Don't Exist But Should, at the McNally Robinson bookstore-cafe in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. Refreshments consisted of rum cocktails and, not surprisingly, candy.
Sample entry in the book: "textual frustration: a late-night text exchange that fails to result in old-fashioned lip-locking." DailyCandy staffers told me that about half the entries in the book are wholly original, and the other half are sourced from "Lexicon"-themed DailyCandy e-mails from over the years.
The party was mostly full of DailyCandy's own sundress-clad legions--the company employs about 60 people--and their friends. Fellow blog folk were few and far between, though a handful of people from nearby new-media companies like Flavorpill and Gawker showed up. So did Bob Pittman, the MTV executive turned AOL executive turned Pilot Group chief, whose investment firm owns a majority stake in DailyCandy. (Regrettably, Pittman left before I had a chance to ask him about his reported foray into the tequila business.)
I also didn't get a good answer to this question: Why is there such an impulse to turn a blog (or, in DailyCandy's case, an online newsletter) into a book?
This blogs-to-books trend seems to keep chugging along, despite the fact that none of their predecessors have been particularly successful. Gawker Media's Guide to Conquering All Media sold dismally, as schadenfreude-happy blogger Jeff Bercovici gleefully pointed out. Options, the book takeoff of the wildly popular Fake Steve Jobs blog, wasn't exactly a chart-topper, either. And now there are books either just out or on the way for blogs Stuff White People Like, I Can Has Cheezburger, Postcards From Yo Momma, Passive-Aggressive Notes, and a heap of others.
For a popular blogger, somewhat ironically, getting a "dead-tree tie-in" (to quote Bercovici) seems to be the way of knowing you've made it. But is that canceled out if it doesn't sell well?
DailyCandy, for what it's worth, has a much more longstanding brand than the likes of I Can Has Cheezburger, and it already has an earlier book (DailyCandy A to Z, published in 2006) under its belt. But the question still stands: why venture offline when the online brand seems to be doing just fine on its own? Will it really convert enough new readers to offset the cost and energy of book publishing? Is a "blog book" really just an ego boost?
The world may never know.