The job was posted without explanation of what the vacancy may say about incumbent deputy Nick Owchar. [* See below.] The books department at the Times is down to three fulltimers: Owchar, critic David L. Ulin (the former editor of the Book Review, when it existed), and staff writer Carolyn Kellogg. They all blog for Jacket Copy, though it's Kellogg who does the heavy lifting (including Monday's post, Is creativity better in the nude?) Remember, the books desk was put under new Books and Culture Editor Joy Press in August.
Here's the new job posting:
To: The Staff
From: Alice Short, Assistant Managing Editor
Joy Press, Books and Culture Editor
The Book Review is seeking a deputy editor to work on our award-winning coverage, which includes reviews, news stories, author profiles, live chats and blog posts for the book blog, Jacket Copy.
Candidates should have a deep interest in books and be knowledgeable about publishing and pop culture. Strong writing and editing skills are ideal, as is the ability to collaborate. The deputy editor will help generate story ideas for the Calendar section, A1 and special sections as well as timely posts for the blog.
The new deputy editor should be prepared to write blog posts and create innovative print and web content. The job also involves work as a liaison with freelance writer and staffers. Interested parties should contact Assistant Managing Editor for Features Alice Short or Books and Culture Editor Joy Press.
One of the new tasks Times staffers are being asked to take on, to varied results, is chatting with each other via the fuzzy picture and choppy sound of Google Hangout. Ulin and Kellogg sat down this week to talk about literary prizes, most notably about the Nobel Prize and whether Bob Dylan should get one.
* Morning update: I'm told by a friend that Owchar gave notice and will join Claremont McKenna College in a communications position. "Nick essentially has functioned as the editor for many years," says a former Times editor. "He's the guy who made sure reviews were assigned, that a rational selection of books was made and that the deadlines actually were met. When other editors needed to deal with the department, he was the one they went to. Nobody has made a more important and practical contribution to the Times' book coverage over the last 20 years than Nick."