Books editor Pamela Paul stressed that the NY Times is actually expanding its books coverage, with the intent of becoming more "strategic" in how it covers particular books.
Previously, the newspaper had 3 separate desks that covered books entirely independent of one another—the Business Day, which is where publishing reporter Alexandra Alter was assigned;
the Daily Critics, comprised of Michiko Kakutani, Dwight Garner, and Jennifer Senior;
and the Sunday Book Review—with very little communication between teams and some duplication in what was covered.
That will now change, with all books coverage falling under a single Books Desk umbrella.
Previously, Paul said, the Times' books coverage consisted "85% of reviews" with the rest being "a mix of profiles, industry news, features, and bestseller lists."
This approach, she said, resulted in "a lot of duplication." In other words, at a Times that has rapidly expanded its digital strategy, the question will no longer be, she said, "Does this book merit a review," but rather, "Does this book merit coverage?"
To this end, Paul noted that the Times has been, and will continue, hiring new writers and editors to write about books in different ways.
Those editors and writers will be focused "across all genres," Paul said, and covering—but not reviewing—books she feels the the paper did not effectively cover in the past.
While Laura Marmor was brought to the Books Desk from the NYT Styles Desk as deputy editor of news and features, the biggest recent hire at the Books Desk was of new editorial director Radhika Jones, who came from Time magazine, where she edited features including the Time 100 Most Influential People. (Before Time, Jones was at the Paris Review.)
Jones will be spearheading an upcoming redesign of the New York Times Book Review, which remains "central" to the newspaper's books-related mission.
The redesign will affect both digital and print and, Paul said, in an email to PW, be unveiled sometime this summer. David Kelly remains the deputy editor of the New York Times Book Review.
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