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The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

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Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

A group read of the book that either "engenders awe and despair" or "[goads] the reader with obscenity and bigotry," or both. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Naked Singularity

Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Life Perec

Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

New Books
Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

Do You Value the NYT More Than the HuffPo?

I don’t want to get too deeply into this issue, but since I’ve been covering the NYT’s paywall and digital media generally, I thought this was worth discussing.

Remember those sweet ’90s when any high school dropout with a website could pull a few million in start-up investment? Well, true, things aren’t quite as crazy now as they were then, but things like AOL’s purchase of the HuffPo do make me scratch my head (AOL-Time Warner Pt II, anyone?).

This, for instance, is why:

About 35% of the HuffPo’s users come form Google. They land on cleverly optimized content: stories borrowed from other (and consenting) medias that mostly generate blogging and comments. This is the machine that drove 28m unique visitors in January, which makes the HuffPo close to the New York Times/Herald Tribune audience of 30m UV. With one key difference: each viewer of the NYT websites yields an ARPU of $11, ten times more than the Arianna thing. Based on the HuffPo’s valuation, the NYT Digital would be worth billions.

The Times, in fact, is not worth billions; or, at least, they’re not getting nearly that revenue from their web presence. (As an aside, all valuations of websites at this point in history are, to not put too fine a point on it, horeshit. There are revenue models out there that no one has yet invented, and others will be dead in 5 years. This stuff is all still very young, inchoate, and hazy.)

In my opinion, the Times has a much more legit business model–creating first-rate journalism (and third-rate book reviews)–than the HuffPo’s which is one step above an eHow-esque content factory. (And see the above link for some fascinating tidbits behind the scenes of HuffPo.) I don’t doubt that there are genuinely worthwhile content strainers out there (yours truly attempts to do his humble part, along with some worthwhile original content), but what The Huffington Post does is more akin to a fire hose than a strainer. As users and search engines get more savvy, I don’t see this kind of business model sticking around.

Nor do I see it being a source of great revenue. The Times could make a legitimate case to charge for what it does–you can’t get what the Times does anywhere else. That’s not true for HuffPo. And I think the audience that the Times has built can be monetized in ways that HuffPo’s never will.

There’s a certain point when you go from taming the chaos to just being another part of the chaos, and HuffPo has passed that point. In fact, that’s its whole version of success. I’m not sure what AOL just bought, but at this point in history I’m not counting on AOL being a savvy player in the Internet game.

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  1. The NYT's Pay Wall and Newsday's 35 Subscriptions Levi Asher isn’t believing the NYT’s declaration that it’s going to build a pay wall: New York Times management knows that a web paywall is...
  2. Kertez Has a Detective Story in the NYT The NYT publishes the first chapter of a new novel by Imre Kertez. As I love fiction that takes a lead from the conventions of...
  3. NYT Reports on The Bolano Myth Readers will remember that about a month ago there was a kerfuffle over whether or not Roberto Bolano used heroin. In case you haven’t heard...
  4. NYT Top Ten The Times has whittled their 100 notable books to the top 10 of 2006 (5 fiction, 5 non). Of the 5, there’s one reviewed in...
  5. NYT 100 Notables, Snoozeworthy I've never quite understood whether the point of the Times' 100 Notables list is to reaffirm conventional wisdom (which would kind of make sense, given...

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3 comments to Do You Value the NYT More Than the HuffPo?

  • Wow – I didn’t realise their aggregation process was quite that easy i.e. “emails all ask the same thing: Would you consider placing this content on The Huffington Post? The front page editors work each day to separate the wheat from the chaff, and get the most timely and interesting stuff on the web.” Some of us search long and hard for good content to link to!

  • J

    With the sale of HuffPo to AOL recently, I think there’s a decent number of content providers who are turned off of continuing to submit. So, the “content factory” might take a hit. Then again, things move fast on the internet, and people swearing up and down they’re going to boycott something one day conveniently forget the next. Who knows.

  • Scott B

    I don’t think either are great money making ventures. I disagree that I can’t get what the Times offer anywhere else. There will always be news available for free on the internet and there will always be people willing to give their opinions on it. Good chance some of those people will be just as informative as whoever is writing for the Times. I can go to any number of forums and blogs and read/discuss whatever interests me. If there’s something truly important behind a pay wall, chances are someone on the internet has summarized it or used the knowledge within it as part of a discussion News paid for by anything other than advertizements will be nothing more than a niche industy.

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