The Tanenhaus Ad Count

While the Brownie Watch may be on hiatus (I expect to revive it in December), I decided to analyze the ads in relation to the content. Here then is a rundown of the ads in the November 13, 2005 NYTBR issue:

PAGE 2: Full-page ad — HaperCollins.
PAGE 3: Half-page ad — Miramax Books.
PAGE 4: Half-page ad — Foucs Films.
PAGE 5: Full-page ad — Hyperion Books.
PAGE 6: Third-page ad — Norton.
PAGE 7: Full-page ad — iUniverse.
PAGE 8: Eighth-page sliver — Tor.
PAGE 9: Eighth-page sliver — Norton.
PAGE 13: Full-page ad — Bauman Rare Books.
PAGE 18: Third-page ad — Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
PAGE 19: Full-page ad — Penguin Young Readers.
PAGE 25: Full-page ad — Scholastic.
PAGE 26: Third-page ad — Random House Children’s Books.
PAGE 27: Third-page ad — Random House Children’s Books.
PAGE 29: Full-page ad — Disney Book Group.
PAGE 31: Half-page ad — Charlesbridge, Roaring Brook and Peachtree Atlanta.
PAGES 32-33: Two-page ad — HarperCollins Children’s Books.
PAGE 34: Eighth-page sliver — Minnie Dix.
PAGE 35: Eighth-page sliver — Tilly, a Deer’s Tale.
PAGE 41: Quarter-page ad — Tuxedo Blue, LLC (with a mispelling of Dr. Seuss).
PAGE 43: Half-page of column inch ads (Spirit of the Forest, Brown Barn Books, Alexie Books, Snicker Doodle, Times fillers).
PAGE 47: Eighth-page sliver — HarperCollins
PAGE 48: Full-page ad — Candlewick Press.
PAGE 53: Quarter-page ad — Nelson Current, column inches — Osprey.
PAGE 54: Half-page ad — Dr. Hisatoki Komaki.
PAGE 55: Full-page ad — The Great Courses.
PAGE 56: Quarter-page ad — Unviersity of California Press, quarter-page ad — Alyson Books, Eighth-page sliver — Bloomsbury.
PAGE 57: Full-page ad — Diabetes Danger.
PAGE 59: Half-page ad — Mysterious Press.
PAGE 61: Full-page ad — Bose.
PAGE 62: Quarter-page ad — Barnes & Noble, column inches devoted to Book Exchange.
Back Cover: Full-page ad — The Folio Society.

Now here is where things get interesting. Here are reviews that are more than a page.

PAGES 10-11: Two-page review devoted to Norton title The Rise of American Democracy. (Norton ad can be found on Page 6.)
PAGES 14-15: 1 – 1/3 page review devoted to Random House title The Lost Painting. (Random House ads can be found on Pages 26-27.)
PAGES 30-31: Page and a half review of FSG book The Baby on the Way and G.P. Putnam book Show Way. (No advertising conflict.)

So essentially if you’re a publisher that’s advertised in the NYTBR, you have a 66% chance of getting a review that lasts more than a page (at least this week). Of course, I’m sure that this is all just pure coincidence. The fact that a small publisher can’t get that kind of coverage, I’m sure, means nothing at all.

Overall, the NYTBR‘s advertising doesn’t profile any specific titles that have been reviewed in its pages. However, there is one egregious spot where editorial and advertising merge. Gordon Wood’s review of The Rise of American Democracy is more of a summary than a response to the book’s scholarship. It is uncritical in the extreme, declares the work “monumental” and it is in every sense a puff piece. Interestingly enough, an ad for the book can be found on Page 6. The first blurb underneath the book? William Grimes of The New York Times. Quid pro quo? You make the call.


  1. Hi Ed–

    It’s certainly no coincidence that there are review and advertising overlaps in the NYTBR–but it’s not as shady as you suspect. Publishers find out in advance that reviews of their books will run, and are given the option to advertise in the issue.

    Of course we, as a small press, have never received more than a one-page review, nor can we afford to advertise in NYTBR, which is still disappointing.

    I’m not naive enough to assume that ad dollars don’t mean anything to editors, but I think it’s more subtle than the case you make here.


  2. Terrie: I’ve only done this with one issue and it may be more of a benign set of circumstances. Hopefully, as I tally up more issues, I’ll be able to have a better idea of how the NYTBR advertising situation operates. I still find it curiously suspect that Woods’ review is so uncritical.

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