The news of the LA Times’ budget reduction for freelance book critics has been going around for a few days now. Some how I don’t see how they are going to keep the same amount of content for the times, with less writers. Less is more works better in home decoration than book coverage. But considering how reduced the coverage has been over the last 6 or 7 years this may not really be a problem, because the damage had already been done. I remember when I fist started to branch out from the NY Times and look for other sources the LA Times had a quality stand alone book section. They would also produce an yearly summary of the best similar to the NY Times. But then the Times became a case study for mismanagement, bad business decisions, and a victim of the Internet, and the stand alone section was done away with and the reviews as far as I could tell shrank in frequency and length.
It is probably a waste of time to bemoan what is done, but beyond the utter stupidity of those who run the Times and have proven that few CEO’s deserve to be worshiped at the altar of capitalism, something the title CEO is meant to confer. Nor do I want to spend much time prematurely aging myself talking hell in a hand basket, every era has plenty of hell and enough hand baskets to go around. It is just too bad that the on going problems have to destroy the fine record of literary culture the Times had. I wonder if this portends anything for the LA Times book festival. While blogs and all help create a literary culture, you can’t beat the size of a large metropolitan newspaper, even when they have lost subscribers, to expand access to book culture. It is also nice to have a west coast voice in books that would counter balance the NY Times, but sadly I think those days are over.