Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sad News In Tomorrow's NYT: The Book Review Has Exactly One Page Of Advertising.

We haven't been counting regularly but we're pretty sure this is a new low: in a 24-page issue, tomorrow's NYT Book Review has one page of paid advertising.

And it's not even a premium-price full-page ad.

Hachette's Grand Central Publishing managed to pony up for two partial pages of advertising -- one ad opposite the Table of Contents (for NYT reporter Jennifer 8. Lee's "Fortune Cookie Chronicles") and another on the opposite page, for Susan Jane Gilman's "Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven."

The other paid ad is for "The Dattoli Blue Ribbon Prostate Cancer Solution," available from Amazon. Don't snicker. It probably paid for Rich Cohen's clever review of "Good Book" by David Plotz on page 9.

Maybe the NYT is too proud to beg, but we're not. Is there seriously not enough money in the HarperCollins or Random House budgets to pay for a lousy half-page or two? Come on guys, this is getting ridiculous. The NYT Book Review does more to promote the book industry's cause than any single print publication in the world. It's payback time.


Anonymous said...

Trouble is that book advertising doesn't sell books, it just strokes egos. Still, you're right. The Sunday Times Book Review sells tons of books with its reviews and its bestseller list, and the book business would be lost without it. Not that they'll ever admit it.

Anonymous said...

Dudes, you've started an argument out in Twitterland. Some publishing types think you're wrong, that RH, HC etc should spend money on writers, not ads. Maybe so. But I wonder how writers would feel if there was an 8-page NYTBR with no ads, and less space to review their books.

Anonymous said...

I complemented one bookseller on getting their book on the cover of the Sunday section. They just shrugged. It was nice, she said, but it didn't move the sales needle at all. It was a topic that no one wanted to read about but some important person was willing to laud and laud and laud.

Bookselling is a squirrelly business. Sometimes a reviewer can attract a ton of attention-- who knew that the world wanted to read about _Seabisket_? But most of the time there are too many books and not enough readers.

My guess is that Amazon reviews are more important than professional reviews these days. The NYT should stop relying on advertising for the book review.

There are other alternatives. The section can be cheap to run. Most of the reviews are done by freelancers at major universities. They probably don't require much cash. Why not go ad-free and consider it part of the Sunday edition? If the ad sales team can't pull their weight, get rid of them and play up the lack of ads as a feature not a failure.

Anonymous said...

Since most of the work is done by freelancers, that makes the Book Review fit right in with the rest of the Times.
Maybe they should put a couple of freelancers on the masthead, just for balance.

Anonymous said...

The daily book reviews are generally written by staffers except for some reviews of books by other reporters. While I like all of the staff members doing the daily reviews, I feel like they're a bit over-exposed. I can usually predict what several will say about a book. One loves to nuke the second novel of anyone who received good notices for the first novel. One is overly kind to perfectly good but sort of bland middle-of-the-road novels.

If "freelancer" means "variety", I think that's a good plan.