Friday, May 23, 2008

And another one's gone...

Sigh. Another day, another book reviewer bites the dust. Remember all the hoopla when Teresa Weaver was let go from the AJC? It seems like, now, disappearing BREs are just now an everyday part of a publicist's life. Frank Wilson from the Philadelphia Inquirer retired earlier this year - and from what we hear, not too happily. Karen Castro left the San Jose Mercury News. Sally Williams is leaving the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Arthur Salm of the San Diego Union Tribune is gone. William Grimes switched from the New York Times book page to write obits (WTF?). Tom Ginocchio took early retirement from "Good Day New York" (not technically a book reviewer, but a great source of bookings for local authors and those on tour in the NYC area). And now Marie Arana of the Washington Post is taking one of the buyout offers and leaving us as well.

And yes, I know we have alternate contacts to pitch, and the papers aren't doing away with the book sections entirely, but some us have spent quite a few years memorizing names and building up at least a slight familiarity and/or relationship with these reviewers, only now, to have to do it all over again. And, frankly, too much booze and other recreational pleasures over the years have made it difficult for me to retain too much new information at once. How am I supposed to keep track of the revolving door of reviewers? It's not fair, I tell you.

I don't have the time or patience to do research about whether the turnover at newspapers is limited to our BREs. I doubt it is, but if we isolate it to just that, it brings us back to the ever-present issue...our book review sections are shrinking, changing, or disappearing - making it harder and harder for us to get any coverage, unless we happen to be publishing Garth Stein. So guys - what should we do? It seems as though the internet is our answer, but will there ever come a day when we get patted on the back for getting coverage from a blogger rather than a "legitimate" reviewer?


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