So I read today that the L.A. Times has finally done in the book review section. Sad, albeit not unexpected. Short sighted, and just another bad omen for the print world. Bad news for readers, bad news for people who like to sit at counters in coffee shops learning about books and the book business. It was a good section, and it paid attention to western writers, and not only to their books, but also -- used them to good effect as reviewers. I grew up on it and remember the many incarnations, from stodgy to hip, but always righteous. Steve Wasserman, the book editor who was responsible for huge improvements a few years ago, commented that the move was a "philistine blunder that...will further wound the long-term fiscal health of the newspaper."
He's dead right. But philistine blunders are the order of the day now in American life. A bad time out on the dream coast for readers. When I was a kid there was Hunters Books, Westwood Books, not to mention Dutton's and its short-lived Beverly Hills off-shoot. (Beverly Hills now prefers crap retail to old school decency -- vulgarity and flash over the real deal. It used to be a village, and a romantic one at that.) Book Soup on Sunset, where I used to work through the early and mid 1980's, used to be open until midnight. Now that Tower Records has closed, street traffic is vastly reduced and the doors close early, like so much else in the city of angels.
So, it's left to the perpetually smart/dumb/smart/dumb L.A. Weekly to continue to champion books, and offer something to local readers and local writers.
Sad part? Nobody's gonna miss the thing. Nobody misses anything anymore. Until it's too late.