May 13, 2020
An open letter to newspapers and other media outlets from the Authors Guild and the National Book Critics Circle
Media outlets in particular have been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis, with many losing virtually all their advertising revenues overnight. This has forced many newspapers, websites and other media outlets to lay off or furlough staff and cut back on freelance assignments.
As one response to this revenue crisis, some outlets are reducing or eliminating book reviews. While we understand and truly sympathize with the grave financial pressures behind these decisions, we believe maintaining book coverage now will benefit readers, authors, reviewers and media outlets themselves. We encourage those outlets to continue to make space for the vital conversation around books in their coverage.
With many other forms of arts and entertainment inaccessible for now, more people than ever are looking for good books to read. Many bookstores and libraries are operating online only and unable to hold public events, and book festivals are being postponed or cancelled.
As a result, authors with new books coming out face an unprecedented challenge in connecting with readership. Many of them have responded in innovative ways, such as virtual book events and streaming interviews.
Still, authors depend, perhaps now more than ever, on book reviews, and readers look to the media for reviewers’ voices. Strong literary arts coverage not only benefits authors, but nourishes the entire literary ecosystem, including freelance reviewers, publishers, bookstores, libraries, literary agencies, editors, designers and everyone who contributes in one way or another to the world of books.
Authors and reviewers have always appreciated the media’s support for the literary arts. With empathy and understanding, we urge them to continue their noble support of books and reading during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doug PrestonPresidentThe Authors Guild
Laurie HertzelPresidentThe National Book Critics Circle