In recent days, again, many book publishing commentators are lamenting the paring down or elimination of newspaper book review sections. Well, I'm not one of them. Most of these sections have been doing such a poor job that they don't deserve to continue to exist.
Too many of them review the same, same books (all from New York publishers) when they should be reviewing books that would truly interest their local and regional readers. Far too many of them ignore books from local and regional publishers, books that would truly interest their readers.
As I've traveled around the country, I've noticed that most book review sections review the same books, write about them the same way, etc. It has been a long, long time since newspaper have served their local readers with reviews of local books. Once in a while, they throw in a review of a local book, but most newspaper book review editors review, as many have told me, "only major novels, major memoirs, and major nonfiction," which, of course means, no local or regional books for us.
No wonder no one reads the book review sections anymore. No wonder newspapers are dropping them like flies or paring them down to nothing. No wonder so many major newspapers now feature reviews syndicated from other newspapers. They might as well. If they had written their own review, it would have sounded the same anyway.
Seth Godin, my favorite business blogger and the only one I read regularly, wrote a post about the demise of newspaper book review sections (and other mass media options). You should read it. Check it out here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/05/ reaching_the_un.html.