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Book World’s New Format

February 24, 2009

Because I’m a semi-regular reviewer for the Washington Post, I’ve had a number of people ask me recently about Book World‘s new format: Sunday’s three-page layout in Outlook, for instance, and the plans for a similarly expansive section in Wednesday’s Style section — a fiction-focussed batch in that case, anchored by Ron Charles’ reviews.

I’ll admit that I miss the standalone section, but I also thought that the new format turned out well on Sunday — especially the layering of larger and smaller reviews — and I anticipate that tomorrow’s will be equally impressive. It’s likely been a tough transition to make in many ways; having worked at a paper for many years myself, I know that such shifts in design, layout, and scheduling can be trying if not torturous. But the good news is that none of that shows in the final product.

ph2009022302766And while this is in no way related to the changeover, I have to admit being personally interested in this week’s reviews so far. Patrick Anderson’s take on Spade & Archer let the Post weigh in on one of the most-talked-about recent mystery titles, and Mark Athitakis’ review on Under Their Thumb, a new book on the Rolling Stones, was far from laudatory but still offered an interesting commentary both on the book, the group and their fans, and the music industry itself.

The title of Athitakis’ review, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” looks back to the old Stones’ hit, of course, but maybe it also provides some small commentary on the publishing changes themselves? If so, the new Book World may not be all many of us have wanted, but at least it’s still filling — more than adequately — a need for book coverage on a national level.

Looking forward to what tomorrow brings….

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