Monday, May 04, 2009

Could Boston become a one-newspaper town?

Could Boston become a one-newspaper town? Well, yes. Boston could even become a no-newspaper town at the rate newspaper closings are going (check out this story). We all know by now that the Boston Globe's future is precarious. The union leaders have blown past their second deadline without coming to terms with the Boston Globe's owners -- or, at least, the four unions haven't all successfully met the terms dictated by The New York Times Co. for keeping the Globe in business.

Meanwhile, the Boston Herald has turned into a cross between a celebrity magazine and a sports magazine -- and its editorial content, even in those areas, seem to be diminishing every day.

So the question, for this Massachusetts-based book publicist, isn't so much whether Boston could become a one-newspaper town. It's whether Boston could become a no-newspaper town. And the corollary, of course, is this: If Boston becomes a no-newspaper town, what will that mean for book promotion campaigns? Clearly, book reviews in newspapers are becoming distant memories. Yet, strangely, most authors and publishers who contact me still open their conversations with, "My goal is to have my book reviewed in the New York Times or another newspaper of that caliber. Can you make it happen?"

In a word, no. I can't make it happen, and I'm already recommending that authors and publishers take a look at their own newspapers and make note of how few books are actually reviewed therein, and the origin of those books. If your book is already in print, and if your publishing house isn't among the major ones, and you're not paying for newspaper space . . . then its probably not going to see the inside of a newspaper. Instead, you should be focusing on other book promotion opportunities -- and they're out there. You have to be more creative than ever, but that's what book promotion has always been about -- creativity -- and that's a good thing, after all.

I wish the Boston Globe employees and readers luck and success as we see what happens next. Maybe there's still the possibility of a future for Boston's number one newspaper -- for a little while, anyway.

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