Critical Mass

Kudos to the Times-Picayune


The New Orleans Times-Picayune announced today the shift of its book section to the Friday “Living” section beginning January 11, 2008, with expanded coverage of books and the New Orleans literary scene under the title “The Reading Life.” The section, which is edited by NBCC member Susan Larson, is to include new features on book clubs and reading groups, and “literary movers and shakers.”

Here is the rationale from the editors:

“In the past year, newspapers across the country have made dramatic cutbacks in their coverage of books. We have a different view….Our expanded books coverage is built on a belief that a great many of our readers have a rich and varied reading life, beyond the newspaper. and while some national statistics seem to suggest that reading is on the decline, others make a different case.

“According to U.S. Census figures, total book sales in 2006, not counting school textbooks, exceeded $16 billion. That’s more than the $12.5 billion in sales of hardware and software for video games.

“That number wouldn’t necessarily surprise our readers, who know that our area supports an array of lively literary festivals, high-profile visitors, strong creative writing programs and new and antiquarian bookstores, including local independent booksellers that are increasingly rare nationally. And New Orleans’ rich literary history also continues to generate, attract and develop a host of talented writers, many of whom use the city and the state as the settings for their tales.”