Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Bad News for the Literate


Blogger Joseph Hutchison said...

The newspapers are panicking is all. They think that people who love to read pay attention to newspaper reviews and will follow them into the labyrinth of ads that has long been the real reason newspapers exist.

But do you rely on newspaper reviews in deciding what to read, Greg? Surely not if you're figuring out what poet to read.

Now, I don't know about Book World, having spent most of my life in and around Denver, whose two papers almost never waste an ounce of ink on poetry, much less serious novels. I can't believe that's the reason they're failing, though. The Rocky Mountain News is going under, making Denver a one-newspaper town, and I can't imagine The Denver Post will hold on much longer—not because it lacks a robust book section, but because it is shackled to a failed business model: the model based on the notion that newspapers exist to drive readers to the businesses that advertise in them; journalism of any kind, much less book reviews, is secondary.

And the interesting thing is, as newspapers fail, poetry and other kinds of literary writing seem to be doing all right, thriving even, in a non-corporatist shadow-system of loosely affiliated interest groups.

I really need to start tracking how much of my book buying now is driven by recommendations from bloggers I trust! More and more of it, I think. But I can't think of the last time I first heard about or decided to buy a book based on a newspaper review.

It's sad to see the old world passing away, but my guess is it's already gone.

8:41 AM  
Blogger The Weaver of Grass said...

Greg - how I identify with your piece today. I find it so irritating. The Times decided to do something similar starting last weekend - just when you get used to reading your favourite writers and your favourite reviews! I wouldn't mind if they said it was to cut costs or something but they always wrap it up in such a way that is an effort to make you think they are doing it for your improvement. Enough to make you stop buying the paper. Unfortunately I am severely addicted to The Times and could not manage without it, so they have me over a barrel.

11:09 AM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:35 AM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


I actually do rely upon the New York Times Book Review (and the New York Review of Books), for ideas on what to read--particularly for biography, collected letters, criticism, general non-fiction, and fiction. I agree, that for poetry, one does much better scouring the web (Poetry Daily, the Poetry Foundation, etc.) for information on what is newly available.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Clearly they consider "people who love to read" a market roughly equivalent to "people who love durian marmalade."

2:46 PM  

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