Sadly but unsurprisingly, the Washington Post announced today that they’re folding their weekly Book World special section and incorporating their book reviews into the Style section of the paper (see “The Washington Post Is Dropping Stand-Alone Section“). This ties definitely ties in with today’s Booking Through Thursday discussion topic! I’ve yet to weigh in there — the very thought of books as tangible objects disappearing makes my whole body feel tired and achy — but as a newspaper staffer myself, I’m pretty disappointed to know Book World will cease to exist in the form we’ve all come to know and love.
When I worked at the bookstore, customers would pour in almost daily asking about this title or that title, raving to me about the review given in Book World and hoping they could put their hands on it. The Post’s recommendations would often result in sell-outs of those titles at our local branch — and more than a few annoyed folks when we didn’t have the latest hot book recommended in the section! Yes, Book World will continue to live online — reviews and literary events will be posted on the paper’s Web site as well as in the Style section. But Book World itself will disappear.
I think this says more about the fate of the newspaper and publishing industry than it does the way book information is distributed . . . although, since I’m writing on a bookish blog and spend most of my time reading book blogs for book information, the relevance of sections like Book World is . . . questionable. After all, we live in a digital world. Tangible, hard-copy newspapers may be relics of a forgotten age in ten, twenty or thirty years.
Or sooner, the way the economy is going.