And another one gone: On Sunday the Los Angeles Times folded its separate book review section, leaving only three U.S. newspapers with standalone book sections (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune). Why? Haul out the usual suspects: declining readership, no ads, the Internet.
Kassia Krozser has an interesting take on the whole situation over at booksquare.com. She wastes no time slamming Sam Zell (poohbah of the Tribune Company) but goes on to make more pointed observations:
I believe that the greatest failure of the LATBR was its inability to convince more citizens of LA that it had value to them — it’s possible to have serious literary discourse side by side with a little bit of what a friend described as the People model. I don’t believe that making the section more relevant for a broader readership is the same thing as dumbing it down. Smart readers should be courted, not locked out.
As we all know, smart women read romance. And literary fiction. And mystery. And science fiction. And a whole lot of other stuff. And women buy more books than men. The LATBR often felt like a gentleman’s club — the books reviewed, the reviewers, the subject matter. This is largely reflective of it top editorial staff, but it’s also a reflection of the value placed on “women’s” fiction and issues. Some weeks it was if there was a “No Girls Allowed” sign on the LATBR.
This is why, at the Herald, in our tiny space, we try to cover genre fiction as well as literary fiction. It's not an exact science by any means. But we try. This doesn't mean we won't review John Updike, but we just might write about Candace Bushnell, too.