Thursday, July 24, 2008

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Save the Book Review
Letters to the Editor: LA Times - July 22, 2008

As former editors of the Los Angeles Times Book Review (1975 through 2005), we are dismayed and troubled at the decision by Sam Zell and his managers to cease publishing the paper's Sunday Book Review.

This step signals the end of an era begun 33 years ago when Otis Chandler, then the paper's publisher, announced the debut of the weekly section. Since then, the growth of the Los Angeles metropolitan region and the avidity of its numerous readers and writers has been palpable.

For example, every year since its founding in 1996, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has attracted upward of 140,000 people to the UCLA campus from all walks of life throughout Southern California. Four hundred writers from all over America typically participate. The written word is celebrated.

It is the most significant civic event undertaken by the Los Angeles Times to deepen literacy and to strengthen the bond between its news coverage and its far-flung community of readers. But without the Book Review itself, the book festival will be a hollow joke.

The dismantling of the Sunday Book Review section and the migration of a few surviving reviews to the Sunday Calendar section represents a historic retreat from the large ambitions that accompanied the birth of the section.

To be sure, no section of any newspaper can remain hostage to past ways of covering the news of the day. We are convinced, however, that the way forward is to increase coverage of our literary culture -- a culture that every day is more vibrant and diverse in the thriving megalopolis of Los Angeles.

Angelenos in growing numbers are already choosing to cancel their subscriptions to the Sunday Times. The elimination of the Book Review, a philistine blunder that insults the cultural ambition of the city and the region, will only accelerate this process and further wound the long-term fiscal health of the newspaper.

We urge readers and writers alike to join with us as we protest this sad and backward step
.

Sonja Bolle
Digby Diehl
Jack Miles
Steve Wasserman

Can the LA Times Book Review Be Saved?
Witness LA: July 23, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

With the scheduled July 27 demise of the Sunday LA Times Book Review loomin
g ever closer, this past Monday morning former LA Times Book Review editor, Steve Wasserman, and three other former editors of the Book Review section—Sonja Bolle, Jack Miles, and Digby Diehl—wrote an open letter protesting the loss and urging people to join in the protest. They sent the thing to a list of publications ranging from our local blogs to the New York Times. LA Observed printed it first, followed by a short piece in Editor & Publisher. There was a mention in Publisher’s Weekly. This morning, Inside Higher Ed ran an impassioned column sparked by the letter. And when I last checked, the cultural reporter at the Lehr News Hour expressed an interest in running a small story on the issue.

Conversation w/ Steve Wasserman

America’s Most Literate Cities: Central Connecticut State University
Los Angeles, CA : 2007 - 53rd; 2006 - 57th; 2005 -60th

Sam Zell
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L A Times

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Jack D. Klunder, President

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