Monday, April 23, 2007

The Dying Art of the Book Review?
Is this even possible? What is going on in this country?

First I read this post on DorothyL this morning:

"Of even more concern is this news from Oline Cogdill, a friend to DorothyL and one of the country's most important mystery reviewers:

... We have just undergone a redesign of our lifestyle/arts section and books space has been cut back. I will still be doing mysteries, for now, but it may not be as many books per week as in the past. in addition, thetribune co. just got sold so who knows. bad times for newspapers....on that cherry note... Oline

Oline works for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel but her reviews are syndicated to papers all over the country. Letter writers man (or woman) your writing implement! Con Lehane"

and this afternoon, I received this press release from the National Book Critics Circle, of which I am a member:

April 23, 2007

Last week, the Los Angeles Times folded its book review section into an opinion section, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution eliminated its book review position. Not a good week for book criticism, but not a surprising one, either: in the past few years, newspapers from the Chicago Tribune to the Dallas Morning News to the Village Voice have seen book coverage shrink.

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) is not taking these developments lying down. This week, in an effort to support book reviews, book editors, book pages, and book culture, the NBCC is launching a Campaign to Save Book Reviews. During the last week in April and throughout the month of May, the NBCC is asking authors and editors, journalists and publishers—and in fact anyone interested in literary culture—to speak out on the value of books and book reviewing.

The campaign’s launch pad is an effort to save the book review position at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, held until last week by Teresa Weaver. Explains NBCC president John Freeman, “Teresa has the opportunity to apply for a job within the company, but it's not clear what the fate of the book page will be—whether it'll be reassigned to an existing editor, whether it will go entirely to wire copy, or whether it will be removed altogether.”

A petition to save Weaver’s job has already secured nearly a thousand signatures, including those from luminaries as varied as Michael Connelly, Richard Powers, and Ian Rankin. Those interested in signing should go to

Throughout the campaign, Critical Mass, the NBCC’s blog, will feature Q&As, posts by concerned writers, and advice on petitioning the media to assure continued book coverage. Current posts include a lengthy Q&A with David L. Ulin, editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

Checkout to join in our efforts and to track developments in this ongoing and important campaign.The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization consisting of nearly 700 active book reviewers nationwide who are interested in honoring quality writing and communicating with one another about common concerns. It is managed by a 24-member all-volunteer board of directors.

For more information, please go to

For questions, contact Barbara Hoffert, or646-746-6806.

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