On the last day of 2007, my postal carrier delivered an envelope from Teresa Budasi, book section editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. Teresa had enclosed the Sunday, Dec. 23 book pages, with a sticky note containing three handwritten words: “Last big section.”
Earlier in the year, Teresa had informed me and her other freelance reviewers that the book section would be reduced in size and scope. What a shame, because the “big section” contained so much wonderful material every Sunday.
Here is what greeted readers on Dec. 23, on five broadsheet pages:
*Brief accounts by dozens of Sun-Times reviewers of the best books they read during the year.
*Stand-alone reviews of six disparate books
*A question and answer column with an author
*A feature about holiday books for children
*A do-it-yourself column about self-publishing
*Budasi’s story about a book-related board game
*Budasi’s column, with a Dr. Seuss theme, about the section’s downsizing. The headline said “How the Grinch Stole the Books Section.”
Hang in there, Teresa. Please.
—NBCC board member Steve Weinberg
Note: Steve Weinberg is the author of the invaluable and annually updated “Publishing Your Writing about Books and Authors: The National Book Critics Circle Guide to Freelancing,” which is available to NBCC members only. His book “Taking on the Trust: The Epic Battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller,” is due out in March 2008.