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Kirkus, Editor & Publisher going out of business

December 10, 2009

Someday the death of old media might be marked by the date of Dec. 10, 2009, the day that  Nielsen Trade Papers announced it is closing Kirkus Review and Editor & Publisher, venerable trade publications covering the book and newspaper industries.

Few details are available at this moment, but according to The New York Times, Nielsen is shuttering the two magazines as it gets out  of the trade publications business. It is selling other properties — The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Adweek, and Mediaweek among them — to “to a joint venture of Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners.”

Nielsen will hold onto a few publications, including Contract magazine and Progressive Grocer.

The loss of Kirkus Review is yet another blow to literary culture in the United States, following the extreme contraction of newspaper book review pages over the past three years. Book reviews are essential to the public conversation that helps keep literary culture alive.

Kirkus was founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus to serve libraries, publishers, agents and booksellers. Published monthly, it produced about 5,000 brief book reviews annually. I suggest we all pray for the health of its chief competitor, Publishers Weekly.

Editor & Publisher is even more venerable, dating to 1884. Also published monthly, it covers all aspects of the newspaper industry. It was a newsroom staple during the long, blissful years I spent laboring in newsrooms in Tennessee and Florida.

PoynterOnline has the complete Nielsen press release.

I keep telling myself the Internet is an information highway — a good thing — but they’re paving paradise, no doubt a digital parking lot is soon to follow.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Candice Simmons permalink
    December 10, 2009 2:01 pm

    What a shame!

  2. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    December 10, 2009 2:28 pm

    It could be a catastrophe, the last canary to die before the mine collapses.

  3. December 10, 2009 3:28 pm

    Those poor people who are losing their jobs now. And poor literature. What’s next? The last canary, indeed. Heartbreaking news. All we can do is what we do: blog, support the independents, read the magazines and journals. Subscribe, subscribe. Keep lit alive.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      December 10, 2009 5:33 pm

      Duff, I think this is as good a spot as any to plug your new literary magazine, Perigee. If love of literature, and the book chat that is its life blood, is to survive, it will be up to people like you.

  4. rachel permalink
    December 10, 2009 5:14 pm

    I agree, this is really a shame.

    I like your image there in the last paragraph Chauncey Mabe.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      December 10, 2009 5:34 pm

      Thank you kindly. And it’s true, isn’t it?

  5. December 11, 2009 11:40 am

    A lot of us have seen the sea change coming, but this is all happening awfully fast, and Kirkus? Wow. It seems to me the publishing industry is going through the same kind of transformation the music industry has struggled with, and which has decimated print journalism so swiftly. In my opinion publishers will be far more flexible than record companies, as we’re already starting to witness (a la online pubs, e-books, etc.,). With readers and writers at its heart–rather than bean-counting execs–I believe the future of literature can still be bright.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      December 11, 2009 12:06 pm

      You’re more optimistic than I am, Robert, but for once I hope I’m wrong. Thanks for injecting a clear and credible positive note to this discussion

  6. December 11, 2009 3:08 pm

    I wonder why we can not raise money to save some of these companies. We subsidize TV shows. Why not include these companies? We give 100’s of millions to get educational shows, why not include these? They are very important to the arts, and literature of of the country. We are missing the boat. It may be time to talk to our leaders about this.

  7. Alexis permalink
    December 13, 2009 12:49 pm

    Dead canaries are never a good thing, but at least the coal miners paid attention when they died. Very few people seem adequately disturbed by this.

    Oh, and thank you for getting that song in my head now too. Even if it is a couple of days later perhaps.

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