Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Are book reviews in newspapers dead?

The incredible vanishing book review

Writing in the online magazine Salon,
Kevin Berger, the executive editor of San Francisco magazine, feels that in the age of market research, newspaper editors have decreed that their readers just don't care about books.

He writes of ''
the Chronicle's action, two months earlier, to do away with its pullout, 12-page book section and demote book reviews to the back of its Sunday entertainment section, a tabloid called Datebook. The book editor at the time, David Kipen, was shifted to "book critic," responsible for reviewing two books per week, and Oscar got the job of overseeing Sunday's seven book pages, which now fall between "Dining Out" and "Get Together," the personals.

''The Chronicle's Sunday circulation is a little over half a million, making it the most widely read paper in the Bay Area. And it's not the only metropolitan daily to trim its book coverage this year. The Seattle Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the Chicago Tribune, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Boston Globe have all put their papers on a diet by cutting back on book reviews. Even the nation's most influential Sunday book supplement, the New York Times Book Review, killed two pages, resulting in the loss of six "In Brief" write-ups and one full-page review.

''The reason for the cuts is not exactly front-page news. In our "age of corporate newspapering," as the American Journalism Review calls it, the $60 billion-a-year newspaper industry is "now culminating in a furious, unprecedented blitz of buying, selling, and consolidating of newspapers."

Read more, at Salon: http://archive.salon.com/books/feature/2001/07/19/book_reviews/print.html

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