Thursday, January 29, 2009

Washington Post's Book World

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Washington Post's long-standing and very well-regarded book review section, the Book World, is going to be rolled into the Opinion and Style & Arts sections, with the final stand-alone issue coming out February 15. While this isn't the first time that the Book World has found itself out of favor at the Post — Motoko Rich writes that it was similarly absorbed in 1973, only six years after its inception, before making a comeback in the early 1980s — it is certainly a bad sign for newspapers and book sections, and the book sections still in newspapers, when one of the contemporary pillars can't make it work. The number of reviews will only diminish slightly, they say, and the staff is not being cut, but still it's hard to imagine that the tenor and focus of reviews from here on will be unaffected by the material that now surrounds them; for myself, it would be strange to find Michael Dirda's column snug between a crossword and a review of "Lost." I do hope that the editors and staff there will be able to make up for lost column inches with online content.

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