Why It's Foolish for Newspapers to Dump Book Review Sections

By now you've figured out that I'm concerned over the elimination of book criticism at several major metropolitan newspapers. As usual, I direct you to the National Book Critics Circle Campaign to Save Book Reviewing series. Here's background info and how to get involved, if you're so inclined. Of course, NBCC members have a vested interest, since they want to protect their livelihoods, but that doesn't diminish the value of the cause. If you're a Bookie, Critical Mass, the blog of the NBCC Board of Directors, is worth visiting from time to time. Currently, they're running a series of 'so-and-so'-on-what-to-read-this-summer columns.

Mark Bowden, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, in a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that there's still a place for newspapers (gee, that makes at least two of us!).

"Pictures and sound are terrific and cannot be beaten when capturing a live breaking news event, but for conveying large amounts of nuanced information, for investigation and analysis, nothing beats, or ever will beat, the written word. I have always believed that when all the superfluous reasons for buying newspapers have been stripped away, what will remain are readers.

"Which is why it is a mistake for newspapers, including this one, to do away with such things as book review sections and Sunday magazines. Our core audience is educated, well-informed, curious and generally smarter than we are - about more than a few things. Essays about books and ideas, reviews of film, theater, art and television - these are far more important for newspapers today than they ever were in the past."

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