The San Francisco Chronicle has a unique understanding of how readers here might react to the LAT folding its Book Review in with Current. The Chronicle merged its Sunday review into another section in 2001 and got "a steady drumbeat of comment and complaint from readers," says deputy editor Narda Zacchino. Six months later the Chronicle reversed course. In a story Saturday, the Chronicle tests reaction to the news broken here at LA Observed that the Times plans to merge Current with the Book Review and run them on Saturday, when many fewer people buy the paper.
Despite all the seductions of the 'infotainment industrial complex,' more people are reading and buying books, and more bookstores are thriving in Los Angeles, than ever before," said Steve Wasserman, editor of the Book Review from 1996 to 2005..."Banishment of the book review to the Saturday ghetto ... certainly is evidence of a retreat, and a considerable diminishment of its importance."
Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein says his paper keeps publishing the money-losing Book Review because "we think it is important to the cultural community of the Bay Area." Another point from the story is well taken, though: "If Barnes & Noble took out full-page ads every week, there would be more book review sections," said David Cole, publisher of News Inc., a weekly newsletter tracking the industry. (In the Chronicle story, Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan is quoted referring to her own section incorrectly as "Currents.")