This is a joint post from me and a NYT notable author and friend of mine who wishes to remain anon.
The news is in that the NYTBR has seriously cut their year end list of notable books.
Two zillion books a year are published, of which five are given the Big Rush, and all the rest vanish without a trace - except for, up to now, the excellent NYTBR's generous compendium of the year's list of notable books.
That was one of the few places that reminded you of so many other books that merited attention, even though they weren't on the Best Seller List a thoughtful, reliable list that you could wander slowly through, remembering books that you'd seen but hadn't gotten around to buying, seeing new ones whose reviews you'd somehow missed.
But now that year end list has been shrunken, to a shadow of its former self. It now stands at 100, (instead of over 600), of which about 30 are novels.
Right. A year of books.
30 novels get highlighted.
There were 10,000 novels published last year. (That number does not include any self published books.)
The NYT marketing people say a smaller list is more buzzworthy.
Well, why not shrink the spotlight a little more? Why not ignore all but two books each year?
How does this help the Times reader? The list is so short and non-inclusive it's hardly worth going through it, so much has been left out. It no longer serves as a useful reference even for the Times' own choices.
And looking at it from a purely economic view, how could this help the Times?
Wouldn't publishers, in the past, have placed ads in that issue, knowing their books would appear? Wouldn't this new method shrink ad revenues, as well as decrease the public's awareness of the year's books?
The ad revenues in the Times are down as it is.
Here's the vicious cycle: The Times complains that ad pages are down and that’s why reviews are down. Publishers say reviews are down so the section is less relevant so they are advertising less.