Thursday, February 21, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review will Shrink ... Even More

Well the newspaper business has been imploding all around the country, but the Bay Area continues to lead the way. (This is one time I wish California wasn’t a trend setter)

Just two day after Dean Singleton’s Media News announced that its papers must immediately cut reporters, (which round is this? Two? Three? Four?) the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that it is combining sections in an attempt to cut printing costs.

Starting this week, the Book Review Section will shrink to tabloid size and will be inserted inside the Insight section. Readers will still be able to pull out the book review, which means technically it is not being discontinued. The four-page broadsheet will become an eight-page tabloid, but editor Oscar Villalon says the number of review should remain the same. The Chronicle runs about 7-8 reviews on Sunday and 4 during the week.

The Sunday Book Review was once hefty and vibrant. It's still clinging on, but its slow death is a loss to the very literate and literary Bay Area.

Remember 8 years ago when Chronicle’s readers were so outraged by the plan to fold the Book Review into another section that they bombarded Editor Phil Bronstein with angry emails and letters? The outpouring of support was so strong that not only did Bronstein rescind the changes, he created a full-size, stand along book review section.

Bronstein left earlier this month. The Chronicle has a new editor, Ward Bushee, with a mandate to stop the bleeding. This is one of his bandaids.

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