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The National Book Critics Circle 2007 “Campaign to Save Book Reviewing,” launched April 23, 2007 as an initiative at the NBCC March 2007 board meeting, included more than 120 original blog posts from authors, critics, librarians, booksellers, passionate readers. With the help of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, we’ve migrated the content from the NBCC’s original Critical Mass blog, which we started in April 2006, and created a downloadable archive of those blog posts, posted here.
These posts on Critical Mass over the first five weeks of the campaign offered a snapshot of American literary culture circa spring 2007, which was evolving faster than many readers, authors and book critics could absorb. Solicited from authors, editors, journalists, book critics and others involved with books and literature, the posts offered a diverse and wide‐ranging set of viewpoints‐‐as might be expected from a group of critics and passionate writers and readers. Among them: Richard Powers, George Saunders, Rick Moody, Lee Smith, Andrei Codrescu, Roxana Robinson, AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) president Catherine Brady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Richard Ford, Nadine Gordimer, Sara Paretsky, Stewart O’Nan, Nicholas Christopher, Bill Roorbach; book editors from the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Pittsburgh Post‐Gazette, the American Book Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New Orleans Times Picayune, the Jewish Forward, as well as Bob Mong, editor of the Dallas Morning News, Mark Sarvas, who writes the literary blog The Elegant Variation, and Carrie Kania, who described an inclusive approach to getting the word out about books she publishes: print, radio, television, online, including MySpace pages, literary blogs, bookstore websites. (Read the archives and the comments after the blog posts for the flavor of the sometimes heated discourse.)
The campaign also included a series of related op ed pieces, editorials, interviews, literary blog posts, reports and reactions. To name a few: Salman Rushdie on the Colbert Report, Scott McLemee in insidehighered.com, Art Wallace in Huffington Post, Bookbabe Ellen Heltzel on Poynter.com, Michael Connelly in the Los Angeles Times, David Kipen in Salon, then NBCC president John Freeman, in The Guardian and in interviews on the BBC, NPR, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the Leonard Lopate show. Motoko Rich in The New York Times, “Are Book Reviewers Out of Print?” and The Los Angeles Times’s Josh Getlin covered the campaign, and organizations including the AWP and individuals posted “Campaign”buttons in support (see above).
In part as a result of the Campaign, the NBCC was honored by the Association of American Publishers with its 2008 2008 AAP Honors, an award given annually to individuals and institutions outside the publishing industry for significant achievements in promoting American books and authors. In announcing the award, AP President and CEO Pat Schroeder said: “Since its founding more than three decades ago, the NBCC has played a central role in this country’s literary dialogue, but neve r has its voice been stronger or more urgently needed. We’re delighted to honor the NBCC for its passionate commitment to our favorite cause—spreading the word about great books.”
John Freeman was NBCC president during the NBCC’s 2007 Campaign to Save Book Reviewing. The NBCC blogging committee at the time: Jane Ciabattari, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Mary Ann Gwinn, James Marcus, Maureen McLane, Scott McLemee, David Orr, Jennifer Reese, Rebecca Skloot (webmaster), Lizzie Skurnick, Eric Miles Williamson and Art Winslow.