Archive by Author

Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust

I was surprised, a while back, to see a picture of Elie Wiesel staring back at me from the essay page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. The picture was an old one, but he had the same pained, prophetic look that he did thirty years ago when he lectured in the basement […]

The Longest Mile

Ever wonder why the technology-fueled productivity gains of the 1990’s that transformed the U.S. economy seems to have bypassed book publishing? Doesn’t it feel like it takes longer than ever for your book to get to market? Rachel Donadio tries to explain this paradox in an essay that appeared in the New York Times Book […]

The Flip Side

In a previous article, I compared the findings of two major studies – one national, the other international – that seemed to confirm that reading in the U.S. and other Western countries is in a dismal state. Time spent reading has declined precipitously, test scores have gone down, and many companies are reporting that writing […]

The Sad State of Reading in America–Even for Adults

They say things–good or bad–come in threes. If so, those who care about the state of reading must wonder what’s next — and if the news can get any worse. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a study showing (or at least strongly suggesting) that there is a direct correlation between declining test […]


While in a downtown Manhattan Barnes & Noble bookstore one day, I noticed that an entire book case was devoted to poker. Pretty good for a game that was — until somewhat recently — thought of as the pastime of middle-aged men desperate for a couple of hours away from their wives, where they could […]

The Decline and Demise of the Newspaper Book Review

I finally got around to reading Steve Wasserman’s article (“Goodbye to All That”) in the Columbia Journalism Review on the decline of book coverage. The piece got some attention when it ran, but not nearly enough. If you read just one thing on the state of book reviews, this should be it. For ten years, […]


In spite of chronic financial worries, and the struggle to remain relevant in the face of competing information gateways like Google and Wikipedia, libraries are reporting some of the highest budget and circulation increases in years. And no one is more surprised by this turn of events than the American Library Association. In a recent […]

Numbers Game

Back on June 6th, 2007 Google announced that the Committee on Institutional Collaboration (CIC), a library consortium representing the Big Ten and the University of Chicago, agreed to participate in their Book Search Library Project. This partnership agreement brought the number of participating research libraries to twenty-five. According to the Google announcement, the CIC libraries […]


According to Simba Information’s annual report, “Business of Consumer Book Publishing,” Travel books (including guidebooks, travelogues, and personal narratives) generated $142 million dollars in 2006, placing it seventeenth out of nineteen categories tracked by Simba. Only the sports and graphic novels markets were smaller. Sales of travel books in 2006 increased a modest 1.43% over […]

Is Paper On Its Deathbed?

In the early 1980’s, I worked for a company owned by the Xerox Corporation, and I remember when they proclaimed the coming of the paperless office. Xerox, the inventors of the photocopying machine, was going into the “document management” business. While the people who actually worked in America’s offices were more than a little skeptical […]