Update on San Diego Union Tribune

Arthur Salm informs me that yesterday’s Books section was indeed the last one. The books coverage will now be “two pages inside Sunday Arts, plus daily reviews once or twice a week inside the Currents section.” Salm also indicates that a Books website will be launching on July 1.

John Freeman offers suggestions on what can be done about this. Meanwhile, Ron Hogan is more skeptical, noting, “Might I humbly suggest that preserving the legacy of serious literary criticism in American letters, if that’s what the ‘battle for the book review’ crowd is actually doing, demands a slightly different approach than the one used to ensure a second season of Jericho?”

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3 Comments

  1. I’m not even sure I’m sure about what I’m going to say, but let me throw a few thoughts on there.

    First, is it a de facto “good thing” that book review sections be stand alone? I’m thinking maybe not. When I pick up my local Sunday paper (which has no book section anyway), there’s sections I have no interest in, like real estate, and buisness, and I quickly sort them and all the ad circulars into a pile and carry them to the recycling bin.

    Now, given that we’ve heard all about how people don’t read, isn’t it possible that continuing to advocate for a segregated section is actually defeating to the cause. Couldn’t it be that too many people are saying, “books,” not for me, and shunting it aside without even cracking the cover? If a tree falls in the forest and is then made into newspaper that winds up as a book section and no one is around to read it, does it make a sound?

    To me, it makes sense to put book reviews amongst other arts related news and information. I don’t generally listen to classical music, but I was intrigued enough by a review I read a couple of weeks ago (next to the Wilco review I wanted to read) to check out the music. Why not put the books information in with the other stuff where at least it stands a chance of grabbing the attention of a passerby?

    Less column inches could, at least in theory, translate into more attention because of superior (if less exclusive) real estate.

    But maybe I’m crazy with this stuff.

    Am I crazy with this stuff?

  2. No, not crazy, but I used to live in San Diego and I’d hold on to the section all week — if it’s dissolved into other parts of the paper I probably wouldn’t have read it.

  3. For the record, I wasn’t skeptical of Freeman’s suggestions, which I had not read at the time of writing, but of Sandy Dijkstra’s call to bombard the Union-Tribune with protest emails. Freeman’s other ideas, particularly the development of a coordinated response involving the local publishing and bookselling communities, strike me as much more reasonable.

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