Book Review: Tackling Tumblr

Thord Daniel Hedengren. Tackling Tumblr: Web Publishing Made Simple. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. 258 pages.

When I got the chance to review a book about Tumblr, I figured I’d give it a shot. I’d heard about the web publishing platform and thought it might be a good fit for a project I’m working on. Tumblr, it turned out, was a lot less flexible than I’d hoped so my experiment with it lasted about three days (switched back to WordPress), but I got a book review out of the endeavor.Tackling Tumbler

In TACKLING TUMBLR, Thord Daniel Hedengren provides novice users with an introduction to the blogging/mini-blogging service. He starts out by explaining just what Tumblr is–and isn’t. Although he clearly believes that it’s a versatile platform, he admits that it’s not for everyone, and in his first chapter provides the low-down on a few Tumblr rivals. Hedengren has also written about WordPress, so he’s clearly got an understanding of the broader blogging world.

Hedengren then walks you through several initial steps: setting up a Tumblr account, creating a blog (or several), and using your own domain name. The last is particularly valuable, because while Tumblr lets you use a custom domain for blogs they host without an additional fee (which WordPress.com does not), they don’t provide any support for the feature.

That’s where much of the value of books like TACKLING TUMBLR lie. You could probably figure most of this stuff out yourself or google to find answers for problems, but this book gives you most of the answers in one place, clearly laid out for you. It’s not a bad thing to have if you’re doing this for the first time.

After you’ve set up your account and started your blog, Hedegren tells you how to change the theme, connect Tumblr to other social networking services, and modify themes using html and css. The final chapter walks you through creating your own theme from scratch.

All in all, this is a good guide to Tumblr. It’s clearly written and has some helpful information. Unfortunately, between the time the book went to press and now, Tumblr changed its dashboard, so not everything is where Hedegren says it is, or is called by the same name. That’s one of the dangers of publishing a paper books guide to something as dynamic as a web publishing system, which can change overnight. But if you’re willing to do a little exploring on your own, this is a good introduction to Tumblr.

The bigger question is whether Tumblr is right for you. For what I wanted, which was a prose-heavy, content-driven blog site, it wasn’t a good fit, but if you just want to communicate in a way that’s longer than Twitter but shorter than a full-on blog post, this could be a good fit.