It's long been rumored that Book World, the engaging Sunday supplement to The Washington Post, would be eliminated. Yesterday, the rumors were confirmed. Post editors announced they were dropping Book World, one of the few remaining stand-alone book sections.
The Post said the change will take effect February 22nd. (I'm not at all certain whether that means February 22nd will be the final issue of Book World or whether that will be the first Sunday without the insert.)
Post editor Rachel Shea said, "It's disappointing . . . but it's not worth gnashing our teeth about too much."
Perhaps, perhaps not. I always looked forward to the Sunday Post, primarily because of the presence of Book World. I will seriously consider canceling my subscription. Almost all the other news within the Post is available sooner via the Internet or television.
Book coverage in the Post will be shifted to the Style section and to a revamped Outlook section. Outlook is the Post's editorial section. Executive editor Marcus Brauchli said because Style and Outlook have higher readership than Book world, the paper's book coverage will reach more people through those sections.
I'm skeptical of Brauchli's assertion that the the book coverage will reach more people because those sections are more widely read. Non-readers will do exactly what they've always done with Book World. Skip it.
I also question Brauchli's statement that the Post values coverage of books and literature. That's the not the message he's sending.
Granted, Book World has been poorly supported by publishers and other bookish advertisers. But the readers are now the losers, and journalism is poorer for the decision as well.
The Post does plan to publish the occasional special section -- focusing on such themes as children's literature and summer reading. The revised Outlook will include a column by Post book critic Jonathan Yardley. Style will carry columns by book critic Michael Dirda.
Here's the complete story from today's Washington Post.