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Times and books

 The Los Angeles Times adds a new dimension to the meaning of chutzpah when it makes outrageous cuts in the Book Review and exiles it to the Saturday ghetto at the same time that it promotes the Los Angeles Book Festival to support reading, publishing and related activities. Would that the book lovers of Los Angeles would stay away from the book festival in large enough numbers to reduce its impact to that of the diminished Book Review. The restructuring of Book Review will do more than anything else to deliver the message that books are not very important in our society and that the people who live in Los Angeles do not deserve a first rate book review section in their paper.

I started writing some book reviews for the paper when Robert Kirsch was the book editor and fighting to establish a stand-alone book section. To offer an award in his name or memory in light of what the publisher is doing to diminish the importance of books in this community is offensive and disgraceful.

Charles M. Weisenberg

Regarding publishers not advertising in newspaper book sections...

 it's heretical to say it, but the book publishers -- who are so backward in marketing they make newspapers look progressive -- are probably right to save their money. No one reads newspaper book sections, stand alone or not, because they suck. They have been dull and boring and gray and stuffy for decades.

Not one paper I have ever seen has tried to make a book section interesting/readable/different via standard journalism techniques (author Q&As, movie-book comparisons, re-run old reviews of classics, commission new reviews of classics, a mix of pro-con reviews, dueling reviews, celebrity reviews, coverage of all book genres, coverage of books used in schools, etc.)

They are gray, boring, narrowly cast specialty places for university English profs do not appeal to a majority of a paper's readers. Book sections -- and most opinion sections -- are great examples of how newspapers have lost their way.

Bill Steigerwald
associate editor/columnist
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

March 8, 2007 10:18 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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