Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Where Have All the Book Sections Gone?

For most of this decade, print pages devoted to book reviews have steadily dwindled. In 2001, Slate ran a piece named “The Incredible Vanishing Book Review,” which focused on San Francisco Chronicle’s decision to lay its 12-page pullout book section to rest, moving reviews to the Sunday entertainment section.

The story also mentioned that “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.”

By 2007, The New York Times was reporting that “the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … eliminated the job of its book editor. … The Los Angeles Times recently merged its once stand-alone book review into a new section combining the review with the paper’s Sunday opinion pages, effectively cutting the number of pages devoted to books to 10 from 12. Last year The San Francisco Chronicle’s book review went from six pages to four.”

Some of the content no longer being printed, however, is ending up online. In December, Publishers Weekly summarized what three of the biggest national papers had added to their sites. They all had … blogs.

Note: Just this morning, I heard an ad on NPR that today's "Here and Now" program would feature guest Doug McLennan, editor of the arts journalism blog ArtsJournal.com, who “says the future of professional art criticism might be online.”

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