If you decide to read Goodbye to All That by Steve Wasserman in the Columbia Journalism Review you can just skim a big portion of the first part because it's just a rundown on all the newspapers that have been cutting back on or doing away with their book review sections, which you probably already know about. In the rest of the piece you will learn that: 1. book review sections have been losing money for a long time; 2. Margaret Fuller was the first full-time book reviewer in the U.S.*; 3. literary critics think rather a lot of themselves and of serious readers; 4. traditional newspaper people don't think much of book reviewers; 5. the contemporary reading situation may not be all that bad.
I suspect I'm one of those hairy-chested populists (metaphorically speaking, please) Wasserman quotes Richard Schickel as referring to. After offering up that warning, I will say that I thought there was a lot of interesting material in this article, but I also thought it rambled a bit; it was difficult to determine if there was one overall point the author was trying to make or a number of them. A lot of us who are not New York Review of Books types will probably drift off before we get to the end. But that may be okay with the author. He may not have been writing for us, anyway.
ArtsJournal.com provided the link.
*Important if you studied her in your feminist history college course.
Next Day Update: Critical Mass has a post describing this article, too. Check it out for a more detailed account of what's covered in Wasserman's essay.