Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How about a bailout for publishing?

In reporting on the demise of the Washington Post Book World as a stand-alone section of the paper, New York Times reporter Motoko Rich spoke with historian David Brinkley

“I think that just like public television— I think book review sections almost need to get subsidized to keep the intellectual life in America alive,” Mr. Brinkley said. “So if we can do that for radio and we could do it for television, why can’t we do it for the book industry, which is terribly suffering right now?”

People may remember that earlier this year, Irish humorist Julian Gough (author of a number of highly recommended novels, by the way) channeled then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. in calling for a bailout for writers.

So far, the call has gone unheeded, that at least the government is putting some of the bailout money toward education.

Still, at the end of the day, each city gets the book review we deserve. It's a shame that the Washington Post pulled the plug only a week after Obama's inauguration. He is, after all, a reader and a writer -- unlike George W., They should have given it another six months just to see if there was a cultural change. I guarantee, the next book Obama is spotted with, provided it's not "My Pet Goat" it will become a bestseller.

And is it me, or is there a wee bit of triumphalism in the Times reporting on the Book World's demise? You can see it in the way they underscore their own page count at the TBR vs. everyone else, as if to say "Hey, look, we still have a stand along book review."

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