Washington Post Book World

Yes, we are currently under a major restructuring of the media world. With magazines closing left and right, it comes as no surprise, but still a shock nonetheless, that The Washington Post is closing down the stand-alone book review section, Book World. Book reviews will now appear inside two alternate sections of the newspaper, Outlook and Style & Arts.

The last issue of Book World will appear in its tabloid print version on February 15 but will continue to be published online. According to the New York Times, Book World never received much advertising from publishers, who generally spend very little on newspaper ads. Publishers now focus their marketing dollars on cooperative agreements with chain bookstores, which guarantee that certain books will receive prominent display at the front of stores.

As Motoko Rich reported in today’s issue of the Times, “Rumors of Book World’s imminent closure last week brought widespread dismay within the literary community. Hundreds of contributors and readers signed a petition circulated by the National Book Critics Circle, urging the Post to save the standalone section.”

The New York Times Book Review is now the largest remaining stand-alone Sunday tabloid section, publishing between 24 and 28 pages a week with a staff of 17 and contributions from countless freelance reviewers.

Strong, solid and discriminating book reviews are vital for the literary community and culture. Even though the number of online book review sites are continuing to grow and offer authors unlimited possibilities for coverage and exposure, there is something to be said for the high regard and respect that these stand alone sections garnered. But change can be good because it teaches us to adapt and grow. Maybe, a new literary forum will grow in the absence of these lions that have paved the way?