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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More on the demise of the newspaper book review

Kassia Krozser of has posted her meditations about the closure of the book review section of the Los Angeles Times.

"Yesterday was the last day for the dedicated book review, and it makes me sad to know it’s gone," she says; "but if you didn’t see it coming, you weren’t paying attention."

So who should the book world blame? The internet? The newspaper publisher? Certainly the latter, she vigorously goes on -- "Sam Zell has no business owning a newspaper," particularly one that has a sterling record as a Pulitzer-winner. And the former can be blamed only because Zell et al saw it as a competitor, not a complementary facet.

However, she goes on, one has to contrast the fuss created by the loss of the book review pages with the absolute outcry if the sports section was erased. It's not that the sports section creates advertising -- it's that the sports section serves the whole community. Were there 300,000 avid and dedicated readers of the books section, as some have claimed? Absolutely not, she believes, and the reason she gives is that books sections are elitist.

"As we all know, smart women read romance. And literary fiction. And mystery. And science fiction. And a whole lot of other stuff. And women buy more books than men. The LATBR often felt like a gentleman’s club — the books reviewed, the reviewers, the subject matter. This is largely reflective of it top editorial staff, but it’s also a reflection of the value placed on “women’s” fiction and issues. Some weeks it was if there was a “No Girls Allowed” sign on the LATBR."

Intrigued? For more of this very pertinent and thought-provoking commentary, go to:

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