January 28, 2009
As expected, the Washington Post has announced that Book World, its stand-alone book-review supplement, will publish its last issue on February 15. Thereafter the Post's book-related content will be integrated into the paper--but it will also be consolidated into a separate online section.
According to the New York Times:
Under the new arrangement at Book World, the combined pages allocated to books in the two sections will be equivalent to about 12 tabloid pages, down from the 16 published in the stand-alone section. The staff of Book World, already shrunk dramatically from its peak, will remain intact.
I'm sorry about that, but I must confess that the larger decision to kill off the print version means nothing to me, not because I don't like Book World but because I read all newspapers (including the one for which I write) online. As far as I'm concerned, the fuss over this development is pointless, given that the magazine will continue to be available as a unified entity on the Post's Web site.
I've said it before, but it's worth repeating: it is the destiny of serious arts journalism to migrate to the Web. This includes newspaper arts journalism. Most younger readers--as well as a considerable number of older ones, myself among them--have already made that leap. Why tear your hair because the Washington Post has decided to bow to the inevitable? The point is that the Post is still covering books, and the paper's decision to continue to publish an online version of Book World strikes me as enlightened, so long as the online "magazine" is edited and designed in such a way as to retain a visual and stylistic identity of its own.
Newspapers are in trouble now because their editors and publishers have spent the past decade turning their faces from the inevitable effects of the coming of the Web. Writers would do well not to make the same mistake. So enough with the anguished kvetching already. Let's turn loose of the past and see what we can make of the future.
* * *
Sarah Weinman's take is here.
Posted January 28, 2009 12:33 PM