Yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times, infamous these last few weeks for sacking its entire photography department, did the same to my old stamping ground, the Sunday Show section and its book pages. On July 14 the entertainment stories will be folded into the paper's gaudy Splash! celeb-and-style section, and regular coverage of the literary world will end.
I can't say I was surprised. In fact, I'm amazed that authors and books lasted as long in the city's struggling No. 2 paper as they did. (I'm also amazed that the Sun-Times—now ChicagoSunTimes.com, to reflect its increasing presence on the Web—has managed to survive the ongoing collapse of American daily newspaper journalism as long as it has.)
I feel lucky to have retired from the paper's book editorship in 2006, at the beginning of the disaster. As a working author, however, I don't feel so fortunate at the loss of the Sun-Times book section. Getting a new book reviewed by competent critics anywhere is nigh unto impossible now. Crowdsourcing outlets such as Goodreads.com are all very well, but their mini-notices often are idiosyncratic and uninformed.
Thank goodness for the struggling New York Times Book Review, thin and anemic as it has become, and for the brave but probably doomed Chicago Tribune Printers Row Journal. I hope they outlast me.