Lileks.com: Not dead; resting

At the risk of throwing another colleague under the bus, this morning’s Daily Glean might have been just a bit alarmist about the potential demise of Star Tribune staffer James Lileks’ personal blog, or at least the daily feature that kicks it off.

Normally, some Stribber’s sidelight wouldn’t be a big deal around here, but lileks.com’s “Bleat” is more than a decade old, and — according to Newsbobber.com — is part of the state’s third-“hottest” blog, behind P.Z. Myers’ atheist-scientific colossus Pharyngula and rightwing tent-pole Power Line.

Lileks.com covers everything from the mundane to the cultural and political. Even if you don’t like the polymath’s quippery on some subject, he surely offers a feature you’ll appreciate. Personally, I’ll always be grateful for his compendium of Minneapolis architecture, and the matchbooks, too.

Put it all together, and Lileks has built a following of approximately 18,500 unique visitors each month (according to Quantcast) or 35,000 to 60,000 (Compete.com).

To be fair to our own Max Sparber, Lileks did title today’s Bleat “Goodbye. Maybe. Or not. Sigh.” This appeared to set up something of a ledge dance:  

I need to do some long-term paying work, but I don’t want to give this up. On the other hand, keeping this up interferes with long-term paying work. Augh, this is killing me here. Why can’t we do both? We can — if the Bleat & the site turns into long-term paying work as well.

Donate or I jump?

When I exchanged messages with James this morning, the situation sounds less fraught. “It’ll be back,” he vowed of Bleat.

Noting he is finishing up work on his 472nd book (my estimate), he explained, “I’m just taking some time to finish the novel, and since other duties are really pressing, I had to cut some volunteer work.”

Lileks — who has never taken ads on the blog (“I really have to rethink whether to warn people not to pay for the secret of white teeth”) — hopes to have the book done in six months. He hopes donations will make Bleating sustainable when he returns. And even the daily posts aren’t disappearing.

“I hope to have something on the site every day, either a picture, or a comment, or pointing to something elsewhere,” he says, noting he took a similar break when he was a KSTP radio host. “But I have to train audiences not to expect a big essay every morning.”

Lileks did inform Bleat readers that his Strib version, “The Blog O’ Things” wil sport “a much bloggier format soon, so there will be posts there two, three times a day.” (Frankly, it’s hard to believe it didn’t already, given Lileks’ hummingbird-like productivity.) He says BOT will ditch the index-page format and entries will simply appear in full.

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 12/14/2009 - 01:08 pm.

    Quantcast is, as usual, way off. Compete is probably right that Lileks gets 60k unique visits a month, possibly more – that’s about what I get extrapolating alexa, too.

    That’s huge traffic for one person, and it makes him the absolute gold standard for solo bloggers still chugging away out there. He’ll be missed. But his lament about the time required to have a quality blog that people enjoy shows how difficult it is to keep it going in a world defined by free content. No, he never quit his day job – but the time crunch must be just incredible. And without pay? Yeesh.

    Thanks, Jim. It’s been a great ride. You deserve some time away from entertaining us for once!

  2. Submitted by Chuck Olsen on 12/14/2009 - 01:49 pm.

    long live bleat!

  3. Submitted by Max Sparber on 12/14/2009 - 02:50 pm.

    Next you’re going to claim Shalby’s still on the radio.

  4. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 12/15/2009 - 07:41 am.

    O.k. I’m one of those wretched souls (soles?) that don’t get Lileks. Good riddance Bleat.

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