The Washington Post announced today that it was folding its stand-alone book review section. Reviews will be folded into other sections of the paper.
This leaves two stand-alone book reviews in the U.S. -- the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Even though the new Chronicle editor John McMurtrie said recently that the paper's publisher was committed to a stand-alone review, one has to wonder if it can really continue. On the bright side, I have noticed more book advertising in the Chronicle.
The next few weeks will be revealing. The Chronicle will soon start using its new presses, which has already led to some changes. The Food and Home sections, for example, made their last Wednesday appearance today and from now on will appear in the Sunday paper. (I am personally disappointed by this development as I always looked forward to the Wednesday paper for its fabulous food section.)
That change may be a precursor to other changes.
While I am encouraged that the Washington Post will continue to actively review books, there is a difference between running a review on the front cover of a stand-alone book section and running on in the Style section. The first example makes a statement about a book's importance. The second just blends in with other cultural coverage.