Book review sections across America are at risk. In the last six months, the Los Angeles Times Book Review was folded into a smaller section; the Chicago Tribune will move to Saturday so that the paper could print 400,000 less copies. The San Francisco Chronicle section – one of the most popular in the country – was cut in half.
The National Book Critics Circle is tired of this and we’re going todo something about it. A few days ago we started an online petition to protest the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s recent decision to eliminate its book editor job (and with it our colleague Teresa Weaver).
In just a few days the petition has picked up almost 3000 signatures, including those of a slew of major crime novelists – Michael Connelly,Denis Lehane, James Lee Burke, Karin Slaughter – as well as Southern literary eminences, like Bobbie Ann Mason, Allan Gurganus and Clyde Edgerton. Also on there: Richard Powers, Richard Ford, Chris Offutt, Gary Shteyngart, Fay Weldon, Julia Glass, David Lodge, AM Homes, Ali Smith and others. Here’s the link.
The petition is part of a big campaign the NBCC launched this week on our blog, Critical Mass, to raise awareness of this issue. It features original pieces by George Saunders and Rick Moody, an interview with David Ulin, of the L.A. Times Book Review, as well as some commentary from the Washington Post Book World:
Would you please consider signing the petition and forwarding it to people you might think care? (Writers, booksellers, readers, friends).
It would be great, too, if you could urge some of them to participate. We’re still looking for short commentaries to post on our blog in coming days and weeks, and for people to write in to their local newspapers.
I think if we can come up with many, many signatures it might grab the AJC executives’ attention, perhaps beat back a trend which is spreading across American newspapers with alarming speed.
National Book Critics Circle
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New York, NY 10003