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October 06, 2004

As "Nearer My God to Thee" Plays Softly in the Background...?
(OK, OK, It's Not That Bad)

by Ron Hogan

I don't want recent arrivals to get the impression that I'm totally down on the "new" NYT Book Review, despite some of the recent items. There's quite a few things I like about it, and quite a few reviewers--old and new--that have impressed me. That said, another one of the great sites that was included in their roundup of the web, the Complete Review's Literary Saloon, digs deeper into an offhand comment I made about the circulation claims made in the Book Babes' review of the Review:

[A]s a stand-alone publication, the NYTBR has been losing an alarming number of its readers. Possibly there are other explanations for the collapse of vendor-sales (such as a choice to limit sales via such outlets), but there's no excuse for losing ten percent of your subscribers in a year... Unfortunately, we couldn't dig up older data, to see how long and steep this decline has been going on--but we note that the 2004 circulation numbers do include almost six months' worth of Tanenhaus-edited issues and they suggest he hasn't been able to stem the flow. Sure, his big re-design only comes now, and maybe things will turn around ..... The numbers certainly suggest that radical action was called for.
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