In Publishers Weekly, Rachel Deahl speculates as to what the sale of the Tribune newspapers and the upcoming redesign (has there ever been a time where there wasn't an "upcoming redesign"?) could mean for those papers' book sections:
The tough times in the newspaper industry could spell more trouble for print book review sections. On Thursday the Wall Street Journal reported that Sam Zell, the new owner of the Tribune Company, would likely try to sell the buildings that two of the chain's marquee papers--the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times--now occupy....
Amid the pending real estate sale and newsroom cutbacks, rumors have surfaced about book sections being cut at Tribune-owned papers. One freelance critic told PW that the Tribune Company is planning to slash overall page counts across the chain. Although e-mails to editors who handle the book sections at both the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times were not returned, Michael Dizon, the communications manager at Tribune, said the paper is currently redesigning its print edition. When asked if this meant the book review section might be cut, Dizon said that "as of now" the coverage "continues to be an important part of the newspaper." Dizon added that the redesign is scheduled to appear in September.
If the Tribune Co. does reduce page counts across its papers, history indicates that book review pages will likely be the first to go.
Hmm. Whenever a newspaper executive says "as of now," people tend to get nervous. They remember.
The good news: NPR is beefing up its coverage of books, as reported today in PW:
National Public Radio has expanded the book coverage on its website, adding weekly book reviews, and has hired six new book reviewers—including a graphic novel reviewer—and added more features to an already existing lineup of author podcasts, critics' lists and other book-focused content.
NPR's expanded book page is here, and it looks great. Of course, NPR has two advantages that most newspapers don't: it doesn't deliver content on increasingly expensive newsprint, and it's not out to please stockholders.
Lucky NPR. Lucky readers. Lucky book reviewers.