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Bad News to Begin the Day

I’m leaving in a just a short while for Mobile, Alabama, to show the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance the outstanding books written by members of the NCWN.

Before I leave, though, I had to share this bit of bad news that came my way:

“Cindy Hamel, media escort in the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Greensboro area, reported that the Greensboro News & Record is slashing their book coverage too:
Elma Sabo says they no longer have a book review section.  Elma is writing for the Ideas section and may cover non-fiction books that are tied into local issues—but please email her first.  Books are not being opened in their offices and they are not reviewing any fiction at all.”

The Greensboro News & Record is just the latest of many newspapers to cut their book coverage.  Each time I hear of this, though, I ask myself the same question: Why would a company whose profitability depends on readers do so much to alienate readers?

Newspapers can’t compete with TV or the Internet for people who want their “news” quick, convenient, and simplified.  By the same token, TV and the Internet can’t compete with newspapers for people who want in-depth reporting, analysis of complex issues, and thoughtful commentary.

What kind of people want such things?  People who like to read.

Why try to be something you’re not, when you’re perfectly suited to excel at something that our country desperately needs?  You would not be as profitable, but you’d fill a substantial niche, and you’d survive.  Personally, I’d like to be a pro football player, but I accepted long ago that it just wasn’t going to happen.  Instead I found a field for which my talents are better suited.  The Network didn’t give me a multi-million-dollar signing bonus when I came on board, but I can pay my bills.

If newspapers keep trying to lure people who don’t care about what they have to offer, they’re going to lose those who do care.