aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

More "adjustments" to newspaper book reviews

LA Times reports that agent Sandy Dijkstra, who lives in San Diego, is calling on the area's readers, writers, booksellers and publishers to protest planned changes to the Union-Tribune's coverage of books, which she said includes a shuttering of its Sunday book review section after the June 24 issue.

She said that book reviews would be folded into two pages within the Sunday entertainment section, and the number of reviews would be cut in half.

The paper's senior editor for special sections said that the paper does "have plans to adjust the way we're presenting book coverage," but said that Dijkstra's information "is not complete or accurate" "Any changes, he said, "will both improve and broaden our coverage of books." However, he declined to discuss specifics.

Many newspapers are cutting back, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and the Los Angeles Times. The book pages in my own paper, The Oregonian, seem notably slimmer. Many newspapers have moved to Web-based review columns and books coverage, but in my opinion, at least, that doesn't meet the needs of the people who pay to subscribe to the paper and never see the Web content.

Want to know one weird reason that Sunday papers are struggling? It's also related to the Web. People who wanted a head start on the want ads for houses, cars, and jobs would buy the paper on Saturday to get a head start. Now single copy sales are down substantially as people turn to the Web. [Full disclosure: I also think it leads papers to try to find something really grabbing - and often scandalous - for that front page, above-the-fold real estate. Anything to catch those impulse buyers.]

Dijkstra urged the "reading community" in San Diego to "deluge" the Union-Tribune with letters demanding the book section's restoration, as well as to descend on the newspaper's offices "bearing a coffin filled with the books of the many authors whose works would no longer be reviewed" and "stage a read-in."

Do you think this will work? All I know is I don't think I'd want my book in the coffin.

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