Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Are Book Reviewers Out of Print?" in the New York Times

Many major newspapers in the U.S. are reducing or eliminating their book sections at a time when blogging about books is rising. In "Book Reviewers Out of Print?" in the May 2, 2007 issue of the New York Times, page B1, Motoko Rich asks authors and bloggers about the situation and whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship. The bloggers say "no." They do not want to replace the newspaper reviewers, who are career writers or academics. Many of the authors think the threat comes from newspapers intent on cost cutting. They are mostly unaware of bloggers.

The idea that newspaper reviews are too stodgy, serious, and academic is discussed. They often print long reviews of books that have little public appeal. I see the Chicago Tribune each week and wonder if this is a fair complaint. To the newspaper's credit, it is often highlighting little known books that should get more exposure. However, I am then surprised (or used to be surprised) by how few requests we get at my public library for the books reviewed in the Chicago Tribune Book Section.

Authors in the article claim that the newspapers in question (Atlanta Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times) need to remember their role in promoting regional literature.

The article is interesting and provides links to literary blogs. Here is a link to the article, which may require you to start a free NYT account.

1 comment:

waltc said...

Authors need to be talking to their publishers. Book review sections disappear because publishers don't spend advertising money, preferring to spend it on book displays or concentrating their ads in the big New York reviews (after all, all the real readers are in New York, right?).

No ads, no income. No income, no book review section. This isn't magic. And while it's nice to say that newspapers have responsibilities to their regional libraries--well, the regional libraries are government funded (at various levels); the newspapers are not.

If/when/as more newspapers revert to private ownership there may be more willingness to ride out tough times and use ads in one category to subsidize coverage in another.