A War on Book Reviewers?
Is there really a book reviewing crisis? On his new blog, Alex Massie, The Scotsman's man in Washington, says no. I particularly liked this point: "It's not clear to me, incidentally, why a 'stand alone' book section is necessarily better than one that includes other copy. Indeed, if you wanted to pull new readers in to a books section the last thing you'd want would be to make it easy for them to throw it away unread, no? And if the stand-alone section is so sacred then British newspapers don't have proper books pages..."
As an author, I want more book reviews; quantity matters more than quality when you're going for sheer exposure. But as a reader, I only want more interesting reviews, particularly of books I'm not likely to learn about otherwise. (Here's a good example, from Sunday's LAT.) What Alex calls "the loss of pagination at a few provincial newspapers"--notably, in my life, the Dallas Morning News--mostly represents the loss of reviews that are short, dull reports on books everyone already knows about. Not a crisis, let alone a war on books or even (interesting) reviewers.