Thursday, December 10, 2009

Have Blogger-Reviewers Shut Down Kirkus Reviews?

Holy cow! I am so surprised. I got an email from the Sacramento/San Francisco Book review announcing that Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933, is shutting down. ~From The New York Times Abandoning some of the best known names in trade publishing, the Nielsen Company said Thursday that it would shut down Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews, and sell a stable of other publications, including Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, to a newly formed media company. Nielsen’s plans to sell had been reported for months, but the news that E&P and Kirkus would close at the end of the year was a surprise. The company declined to discuss their financial performance, but executives said they had fought declining advertising and circulation, much like the newspaper and book industries they cover. Read the rest of the article HERE. According to the owner of the Sac Review, they are now only second to Publisher's Weekly in doing the volume of reviews they do every month. I'm not sure that makes them a name yet, but it's certainly interesting to see that print reviewing is indisputably on the decline. Are blogs like mine to blame? When I started this blog some 3 years ago, I did it on a whim. I never expected any audience to speak of and my traffic is modest to say the least. But I do have enough of an audience to get review copies, a lot of review copies, from various publishers in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. And like a lot of other genre blogs, snippets of my reviews are being used to promote certain authors-- all at very little cost to the publisher since I do the reviews for free. Is this an inevitable shift in the industry? Well, considering how poorly print publications are doing across the board I'd say yes. Though, for some strange reason, I had mentally categorized mainstream print journalism-- the stuff that's news oriented-- in a completely different universe than book reviews. Nowadays everyone seems to have opinions on how print journalism is hopelessly biased and have moved to seeking their news online. But reviews? To my knowledge they typically don't fall prey to the kind of bias I see everywhere else. So I'm guessing that bias isn't the issue-- but competition is. It's something to think about. I honestly don't feel particularly guilty because I'm seeing blogger-reviews of everything, not just books. And I'm a small fry in the blogoshpere, let me tell you. I've been hearing about bloggers who are flown in to certain events to reviews products for big companies-- I should be so lucky. One of my favorite blogs frequently gives away really, really expensive kitchen appliances. I don't know what this means long term. But I think the closing of Kirkus Reviews is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes the Internet is going to bring to marketing and reviewing new products. Who knew I was a trailblazer?

6 comments:

Neth said...

It's my fault.


From what I've seen, Kirkus has been marginalizing itself for quite a while now, so this was coming for quite a while.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've been hearing about Kirkus closing everywhere this morning. Maybe it's too early to tell all the things that went into that closure.

SQT said...

Neth, when you say "marginalizing" do you mean cutting back?

Charles, I'm sure there are a lot of reasons. But I can't help but think blogging has affected a lot of industries.

Neth said...

Basically, what I've seen a number of 'industry' people say is that they haven't been reading Kirkus reviews for a long time anyway for a number of reason - the most common one is that it takes a paid membership to see the reviews.

The relative lack of surprise at this announcement from people who seem to be 'in the know' screams to me that this was expected and that it doesn't really hurt anything.

SQT said...

Neth--just goes to show how in-the-know I'm not! I don't really track these kinds of things. I just know Kirkus is a name I've seen in reviews forever. So it was kind of a surprise.

Aarti said...

I think it's probably partly because of book blogging, but I think the entire publishing industry is in so much turmoil it's hard to really lay the blame on just one aspect of the thing. I liked Kirkus reviews a lot- they were very honest.

As for other bloggers, if you're talking about who I think you're talking about, I have yet to ever win a Cherry Red Kitchen-Aid appliance on those giveaways. sigh...