Yesterday, Philly Inquirer books editor Frank Wilson declared that he was unwell. I was concerned that this may have meant something more. And this morning, I checked out the Philly Inquirer books section, stunned to find only five reviews appearing online instead of the usual seven. Cecil Johnson’s review was picked up from the wires. So aside from Frank’s review, there appears to be only three new reviews.
I certainly hope that this dip in column inches is a momentary aberration. While I offer the disclaimer here that I have contributed reviews to the Philly Inquirer, I believe that Frank Wilson is one of the hardest working and forward-thinking book review editors in the country. He was one of the first editors to investigate the media ecology that exists between newspapers and litblogs and he’s the only book review editor, aside from the Albany Time-Union (in which the blog serves as a surrogate to a book review section), who actively maintains a blog. It would be terrible to see his great services diminished, particularly after surviving the massacre that went down earlier this year.
Almost all of the book reviews in the Detroit Free Press now come from other newspapers. A Detroit-born writer gets absolutely no help here. Just a year ago, most of the reviews were from local reviewers. What a crime. I know there are university people who would review book gratis just to have a local voice rather than borrowing one from Miami, LA or New York.
I totally agree about Frank Wilson– both as an editor and a reviewer himself (he is quite a polymath). His book review section is excellent. I do hope, like you, that the PI’s new owners see the sense and value of what Frank provides.