Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boston Globe reporter speaks out about book reviews

Just read an interesting Boston Globe article, "Internet offers book reviewers a new chapter," by Alex Beam.

In that article, Beam points out that newspapers accept a lot of advertising dollars in their book review sections. Thus, by trimming back (or by eliminating) their book review sections, they're actually sabotaging themselves. I never thought about it that way, but now that I have, I'm curious about why newspapers have been so willing to cut out a section of their publications that, potentially, was a moneymaker for them.

Is it because the switch from paper-based book reviews to Internet-based book reviews is inevitable? Will readers switch their allegiances from, say, the Boston Globe's book review section to the online Barnes and Noble bookstore (BN.com) reviews, regardless of what newspapers want?

In fact, if book reviews are moving to the Net, then can feature stories be far behind? How long will it be before the Boston Globe whacks back all its editorial content in favor of putting it up on its Web site -- perhaps for the benefit of subscribers only?

It's a strange new world, the idea of online book reviews. And yet it's happening all around us. Alex Beam's article suggests to me that there's nothing readers can do to change that. I wonder....