Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Hmm …

… Copper Nickel | The Self-Hating Book Critic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I missed the picketing against newspapers cutting back on book coverage. Must have happened after I retired (though they were certainly cutting away while I was still a book editor). It is, however, interesting to note that cutting book review sections certainly did nothing to stem the decline of newspapers. That could well be because it is a bad idea for any business to alienate its customer base. If there's anything you can be certain of regarding the people who read book reviews it is that they like to read. Very often what they like to read is printed on paper.  So if your product is printed on paper, you may just want to offer those people something of interest to them. Thinking that big articles on rappers is going to inspire all the people who listen to rap music to run out and buy a paper is, well, delusional. 
The Inquirer's principal competition on Sunday is the New York Times, which still has a book review section (which I once wrote for). The Times book section, though, is not what it used to be. I suspect that The Inquirer could easily and cheaply put out something that would compete quite well with the Times's section.
There is also much to be said for newspapers focusing their attention on people who read books, go to classical music concerts, attend art openings, etc. A small demographic, to be sure, but one that tends to have disposable income, which makes it of interest to a certain kind of advertiser. Many years ago, WFLN was Philadelphia's classical music station. Its 10th anniversary took place in 1959. WFLN never had the number of listeners that the rock stations had. But a marketing survey that year indicated that its listeners accounted for one-third the buying power of the Delaware Valley. WFLN's advertisers — furriers, brokers, etc. — reflected that, and the station thrived for years until it was sold to a radio conglomerate that proceeded to ruin it.
But how are newspapers going to attract young readers? Well, to begin with, no one stays young. But think of this as well: If you're a recent law school graduate who has just passed the bar exam and just got your first job with a major law form, and you see all those older guys walking into the office every morning with the Wall Street Journal in hand, you're probably going to start picking up a copy of the Journal yourself soon.

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