Another book review section to fold?
San Diego book agent Sandy Dijkstra is calling on the area’s readers, writers, booksellers and publishers to protest planned changes to the Union-Tribune's coverage of books, which she said includes a shuttering of its Sunday book review section after the June 24 issue.
Beginning July 1, Dijkstra said in an e-mail alert fired off Friday afternoon, book reviews will be folded into two pages within the Sunday entertainment section, and reduced in number by 50%.
Chris Lavin, the Union-Tribune's senior editor, special sections, said late Friday that the paper does "have plans to adjust the way we’re presenting book coverage," but said that Dijkstra's information "is not complete or accurate."
Any changes, Lavin said, "will both improve and broaden our coverage of books." However, he declined to discuss specifics, saying, "We’ll do that in the pages of the newspaper when the details are final. Our readers will be the first to know."
Financial pressures at newspapers across the country have resulted in cutbacks in newsprint space devoted to books, including at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and the Los Angeles Times, where the Sunday Book Review section was packaged with the Opinion section beginning in mid-April. (The Times' Book Review has also launched Web-based review columns and books coverage.)
The cutbacks have produced an outcry from literary communities wherever they have occurred, with some likening it to an "intellectual brownout."
Dijkstra urged the "reading community" in San Diego, which she described as one of the top 10 book-buying cities in the country, to "deluge" the Union-Tribune with letters demanding the book section's restoration.
Dijkstra, in her e-mail blast, also called on the book community to descend on the newspaper's offices "bearing a coffin filled with the books of the many authors whose works would no longer be reviewed" and "stage a read-in."
"Now is the time to act!" she wrote.
— Kristina Lindgren