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“The Book”: an Online Review at The New Republic

January 13, 2010

I am delighted to announce that The New Republic has just launched an online book review. Isaac Chotiner, Executive Editor, explains why “friends of the book” — that would include yours truly! — are pushing back against the marginalization of books in newspapers and on the web:

The slow and steady transfer of people’s attention to the web is a fact of our culture. And the absence of any site for the serious consideration of serious books is also a fact of the web. And then there is the equally discouraging fact–not online but in the real world–of the literary impoverishment of American newspapers, many of which have fired their book critics and shrunk or closed their book sections. It is a time, then, for friends of books to push back. At The Book we plan to extend the critical principles that animate the literary pages of The New Republic to online journalism–to help fill the vacuum left by the carnage in American newspapers.

Chotiner is, of course, wrong to suggest that there are no websites currently devoted to the “serious consideration of serious books.” The serious consideration of books is the raison d’etre of the Smith Review! (A review of Matthew Yglesias’ Heads in the Sand should be up later today, with any luck.)

I am nevertheless very pleased to see that The New Republic shares my
enthusiasm for the printed word and hope that this might be the beginning of a larger trend. A picture speaks a thousand words; a thousand words are a blog post. From this, it follows that a book is a very big picture — for a book speaks a thousand blog posts. Blogging is, essentially, a view from your window (to borrow a phrase from Andrew Sullivan). And, while there is much to be seen out the blogging window — especially the Andrew Sullivan window — a book has the potential to reveal horizon lines of thought.

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