Friday, April 27, 2007

A Modest Proposal

artsJournal indicates that there is lots and lots and lots of concern regarding the loss of book supplements in newspapers. Newspapers are cutting these sections of their newspapers (and eliminating book editor positions) to save money. Readership is supposed to be going down due to the quick availability of news on-line and at all news cable stations. In addition, publishers aren't supporting such supplements with ads, instead using their marketing money to pay to have their books displayed at chain bookstores (among other things).

Remember, the number crunchers say that somewhere in the area of 150,000 to 175,000 books are published each year. Even if each book were reviewed and marketed properly, how could the average reader have time to even know of the existence of all those titles, let alone read them? What is the likelihood that readers will ever be able to connect with books that are perfect for them?

Now realize that there's not enough marketing money in the world to market them all perfectly. It is physically impossible for all books to be reviewed and becoming more impossible as publications cut back on their review space.

Think of a funnel with the fat part being all this year's books and the narrow part being review space and the white space beneath the funnel being the public. Now you can get some idea why people are concerned about this.

Here at Chez Gauthier, we have noticed that a great deal of the national news in our local big city paper is day old. It's stuff we read the day before on-line. Word for word because the paper is just printing news service stories.

Not a lot of reason for us to keep up our subscription. As I said earlier, evidently others feel the same way.

What might keep me interested in reading a daily paper? Well, expanded local news, of course, which we can't get on-line. And then how about expanded features? More arts coverage both national and local. More coverage of what's going on at museums, clubs, theaters, and...publishing. More coverage of local authors, local literary awards, author appearances at schools.

Am I the only person who would read more of this stuff? To me, this is the kind of material I can't get on the Internet. Why not give me that in the newspaper instead of cutting it out to give me more wire stories that I've already read?

2 comments:

Kelly said...

But it's the same exact funnel, Gail. Wire stories are cheap, because 1000 local newspapers buy them in blocks (depending on which of the six or so media groups they belong to). So one day old story on Paris Hilton or sleep-driving on Ambien is much less expensive than sending a local journalist to the local museum.

So, yeah, books coverage has been cut. But so has everything else. Newspapers aren't newspapers at all anymore.

gail said...

Actually, our newspaper employes a person to do a "people" kind of column, and we still get the one-day old stories on Paris Hilton. I hope they aren't paying her much.