Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't read today's "Boston Herald."

If you love reading -- and I doubt you'd be reading a blog about book promoting if you didn't -- then I'd advise you to steer clear of today's edition of the Boston Herald. It's the bearer of two bad-news items.

First, the Herald reveals the chilling news that Cambridge, Massachusetts' Out-of-Town News is in deep financial trouble and may be forced to close.

If you've ever been to Harvard Square, then you know the Out of Town News stand. It's the first thing you notice when you emerge from the subway's Red Line and the place where you probably indulged your curiosity about every imaginable newspaper and magazine, from all around the world, as you waited for a friend or just relaxed before your next engagement. A Harvard Square devoid of the Out of Town News stand would be like ... well, like a Downtown Crossing lacking a Jordan Marsh and a Filene's. Which, granted, has already happened so, presumably, the Out of Town News stand could succumb to the competition from the Internet. But -- what a terrible loss that would be for all of us.

And another reason to avoid opening the Boston Herald this morning is that their reporter, Christine McConville, asks the question, "Will Someone Step Up to Buy the Boston Globe?" I'm not sure we have to worry about Boston's becoming a one-newspaper city just yet (and it isn't as though the Herald, which is Boston's number two newspaper, doesn't have its axe to grind), but still, it's disheartening to see anyone raise the possibility that the New England Media Group, which is owned by the parent company of the New York Times, is in dire straits.

The economic news of the past few months has been horrible for all of us. But doesn't it sometimes seem as though those of us who love books and newspapers and magazines are dealing with a dual problem -- that we're staring at the dominance of the Internet at the same time as we're watching the slowing down of the economy?

Anyway, don't open up today's Boston Herald -- and don't log onto their Web site, either. You heard it from this book publicist first.