Feature

The end of ‘Book World’

What the closing of <em>The Washington Post</em>'s stand-alone book reviews section means to the literary world

“In another sign that literary criticism is losing its profile in newspapers,” said Motoko Rich in The New York Times, The Washington Post announced that after Feb. 15, the paper will “shutter the print version of 'Book World,'” the stand-alone book reviews section—one of the last and largest in the country—that appears in its Sunday edition.

“My heart goes out to my friends in the publishing world, said Bruce Reed in Slate, “and I'll miss ‘Book World’ as much as the next guy.” But for the book world in general, “like the auto industry and the newspaper business, the sharp economic downturn is accelerating painful changes that were already under way and were bound to hit in the next decade, anyway.”

The thing is, said Rachel Hartigan Shea in The Washington Post, “we are not going away.” In fact, “if you read ‘Book World’ online, you may not notice any change in our coverage at all and might even see some improvements.” In print, the usual contents of ‘Book World’ will just be dispersed into other sections of the paper. We still believe that “books are vital to understanding our world,” so we’ll keep covering them.

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