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TODAY

Wednesday, May 12

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News Wed May 09 2007

The State of Books in Chicago

So, you may have heard that the Chicago Tribune is moving the Books section from Sundays to Saturdays beginning May 19. Yes, lame. My favorite part is where the letter states that "moving the section to Saturday will separate it from the Sunday newspaper, which already is bursting at the seams with essential reading." Like Transportation? Or the insipid and irrelevant Q section? Right.

The National Books Critics Circle responded to this and the recent elimination of the books editor at the Atlanta Journal Constitution by starting the Campaign to Save Book Reviews. There's been some great interviews and posts on the NBCC blog about the place of books criticism in modern journalism.

Meanwhile, this past Sunday, Chicago Sun-Times books editor Cheryl Reed published a thoughtful commentary on the state of affairs, including this passage:

"What newspaper publishers and editors don't seem to get is that people who read books also tend to read newspapers. Our fates are tied together. Book readers often make up our most educated and informed newspaper audience. While they'll throw out the daily paper within minutes of reading, book readers tend to keep books sections longer. They'll stack them for weeks or tuck them into their purses and shoulder bags, foisting them upon bookstore clerks to help them find their next great read."

Reed concludes, "While the Trib's move makes the Sun-Times books section the only game around on Sundays in Chicago, it also means that inevitably there will be fewer readers cultivated, fewer points of views disseminated and, ultimately, fewer authors discovered, some in our own backyards."

I used to hold on to the Tribune Books sections, and often updated my to-read list after reading reviews in the paper. Will I still be able to do that after May 19? I don't know. How do you find new books to read or discover new authors?

 
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