A sharp-eyed Mike Shatzkin, a leading strategist for the U.S. book industry, noticed a rather disturbing oddity in the paper edition of the New York Times Book Review:

image NY Times Book Review, issue of December 21, the Sunday before Christmas:

TWO ads from publishers. Each 1/3 of a page vertical outside strips. One from Anchor Books, one from HarperCollinsChildrens. Bose took the back cover. The rest of the ads are house ads.
There are no villains here. It is just sad to watch eras end and this is such clear proof that one has.
Depressing, depressing, depressing; and it’s no abstraction to a writer like me with a book about to appear and another planned for the future. I don’t know if the Times will write up The Solomon Scandals in a daily or Sunday review. But remember, the NYT Book Review is at or near the top of the reviewing food-chain, so what does this portend for other review sections? That picture of Mike smiling, by the way, is an old shot.

Related: A different perspective, from another respected strategist, Michael Cairns, former president of Bowker, who says that book reviews don’t matter as much to readers as they used to.

(Quoted with permission from Peter Brantley’s private Read 2.0 list.)


  1. LOL, my hair’s intact—well, a lot grayer and a little less of it. But otherwise fine. I hope all’s well over there in Japan or wherever you’re living these days. Happy holidays, and great hearing from you. And meanwhile I’m gonna add a “(Photo)” after Mike’s name to make sure there’s no confusion. Methinks his hair is a great brand image, so to speak, for a company with “Idea” in the name. Einstein certainly wasn’t much of a slick-down comber, and I’m not, either. David

    Update: I see the existing copy already says that’s Mike’s photo. So we’re in good shape, even though it would be nice to have the mention earlier.

  2. Although the NYT Book Review advertising pages appear down, I note that the advertising by major publishers in the New York Review of Books appears to be holding steady.

    I suspect that the NYT Book Review no longer wields the power it once did. I know that I used to read it religiously and now I look at the Table of Contents to see if there is anything that piques my interest. Usually there isn’t, so I don’t even look through the magazine. OTOH, I do read the NY Review of Books religiously, and I do look at every ad in the Review.

    Perhaps the NYT Book Review’s problems are symptomatic of the problems the NY Times faces in general — a declining, older demographic for the print version — combined with younger folk seeking more focused news sources that include less analysis and detail.

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