March 16th, 2007

Egrets Reading

The Upcoming Demise of the Los Angeles Time Book Review Section

Tonight, I heard author and Los Angeles Times book columnist Jonathan Kirsch speak and he confirmed rumors that the Times is planning to drop its Sunday Book Review Section, one of only five free-standing book review sections in the country's major newspapers. Kirsch said his father was the person who started the LA Times Book Review section decades ago.

This will only leave The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune (ironically since the Tribune now owns the Times), and The San Francisco Chronicle with separate book review sections.

Apparently, the SF Chronicle tried to drop its section a few years ago but there was such a protest that it was saved. Also, several years ago, the LA Times had decided to stop reviewing poetry books and a group of poets got a truckload of manure and dumped it in the lobby.

Kirsch seemed to think it would take a major, major outcry to save it, and even then he wasn't sure it could be saved due to budgetary problems. He also didn't seem to think much of the local rich mogul attempts to buy the paper back for Los Angeles.

There will still be book reviews in the Times, but no longer in the Sunday paper. It will be part of a combined Saturday tabloid section with "Currents" the replacement for the Opinion page, which will mean the paper will lose about 4 pages of its normal reviews.

The Festival of Books seems to be still on track, since it is considered a profit center for the paper, so all is not completely lost for book lovers in Los Angeles. The book review section will be discontinued about two weeks before the festival, so the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and the Festival itself could be interesting this year.

However, if anyone wants to try to save the section, now is the time to start writing letters, etc.

The Book Review section is one of the best parts of the Sunday paper.