What's That You're Reading?
Since 2001, when Salon controversially covered The Incredible Vanishing Book Review--for which it had to provide room to correct its too dire assessment at that time--the decreasing space devoted to book reviews has been documented at newspapers all over the country.
In 2007, the LA Times ran The Folly of Downsizing Book Reviews, written by mystery author Mike Connelly, who talked about the importance of reviews to introduce new voices and wrote, "That (first book) review and others like it stimulated interest in what I had to say."
This past Friday, June 27, 2008, Rachel Deahl wrote in Publishers Weekly, this loss is upon us again. "For nearly eight years now book review sections have been steadily getting thinner or dropped altogether. In 2001 The San Francisco Chronicle downsized its book section; both The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Dallas Morning News lost their dedicated book editors...and, last year, both the Tribune and the L.A. Times dropped their standalone book sections...(Cuts have also happened at mid-size papers like the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Raleigh News & Observer.)"
Apparently the reason is financial. Deahl goes on, "In a 2006 story, PW noted that the New York Times Book Review is one of the only book sections in the country that's well supported by ads. In that piece San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein offered this lament: "It gets harder and harder to justify something that has no ad support."
If that's not a call to act here at completely independent Correntewire, I don't know what is.
Personally I'm pro-book. I also support voluntary reading, and even writers, as long as they don't take things too far. Heh.
Be a Sunday morning book reviewer: what's on your bookshelf?