Thu - 23.11.2017

Slate launches monthly book review

Slate launches monthly book review

Slate likes big books and it cannot lie... The all-digital publication will be launching a new monthly book review, which will appear on its homepage on the first weekend of every month.

The first issue will be out in full tomorrow, but two sample book reviews by Allison Benedikt and Wesley Morris have already been published today. The new section will review both fiction and non-fiction and will be produced by a mixture of staffers and freelancers.

In an blog post announcing the launch, Slate writes "Over the past few years, newspapers, magazines, and media organizations have shrunk book coverage substantially, shuttering standalone book review sections and lowering the budget and editorial energy devoted to books. Well, here at Slate, we pride ourselves on going against the conventional wisdom."

But in fact, Slate isn't the only one experimenting with book reviews. The Chicago Tribune has just launched a new Sunday book section named Printers Row, not as a regular supplement to the paper, but as a piece of premium paid content. Priced at $99 a year, Printers Row is supposed to target a niche audience willing to pay for quality content and "bolster revenue beyond the traditional subscription and advertising model," says the paper.

The Tribune's experiment to make money through book reviews stands out, because as Julie Bosman points out in an article for the The New York Times, stand-alone book review sections in newspapers have become a common casualty of falling advertising and circulation revenue. She notes that both the Washington Post and the LA Times scrapped their stand-alone book review sections in recent years and that only "a few exceptions remain", such as the book review supplements in the New York Times or the San Francisco Chronicle.

Bosman notes that this is in no way because there is a lack of books to review. "The number of books published every year has exploded, leaving a wider gap between the titles published and those that are reviewed," she writes.

Bosman also suggests that readers' interest in books has not diminished. She quotes Dan Kois, a senior editor in Slate's culture department, who will be overseeing the new monthly book review: "it didn't seem to me that there was less of an appetite for good writing about books," he said.

As Bosman acknowledges, lots of book reviewing has moved online. In fact, as Laura Hazard Owen at paidContent points out, Slate is perhaps not so much "going against the conventional wisdom" as joining the trend.

Hazard Owen highlights that Slate book review "joins other online book reviews, including the Barnes & Noble Review, The Millions, Shelf Awareness for Readers, the romance-focused Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Bookriot and One-Minute Book Reviews."

But Hazard Owen acknowledges that, while there's no lack of literary reviews online, "Slate brings a trusted brand and some well-known writers to the table".

Sources: Slate, New York Times, SFN Blog, paidContent


Hannah Vinter


2012-03-02 18:34

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