From Publisher’s Lunch:
Though he stepped carefully around specifics, Tannenhaus confirmed that the process of changing the review has already begun and will build to a full “relaunch” and redesign this fall. He confidently declared, “You’ll see a much different book review.”
Most potential changes were positioned as things “we are looking at,” but the roster included turning more full-page 1,400-word reviews into more 600 to 700-word reviews, pushing reviewers to do their work more quickly, finding new and regular ways of covering commercial fiction (by “taking it own its own merits and trying to find what it is that readers are responding to”) and tweaking the “in brief” reviews in a way “that we hope will spotlight them a little bit more.” Tannenhaus made it clear that he will start reviewing authors who have “consistently been on the bestseller list” but not generally gotten reviewed in the newspaper. In the reviews he would “like a little stronger opinion as well.” Plus, authors with a “legitimate grievance” about how they are reviewed should find their letters getting printed more frequently. “If an author think he hasn’t gotten a fair shake, then the letter runs and the reviewer gets the chance to respond.”
So, Mr. Tanenhaus, can we expect some sidebars on how many times Zadie Smith upsets her neighbors? And that quick-on-the-draw approach will work great with heavier novels like Cloud Atlas or The Confusion.