Pamela Paul, the editor of the New York Times Book Review since 2013, has received deserved credit from many former critics of that section for adding diverse genres (she started out as the children’s book editor, it should be noted) and new voices to its pages.
Now she’s going to be in charge of all the paper’s books coverage, including the daily paper’s reviews by mainstay mega-critics Michiko Kakutani, Jennifer Senior and Dwight Garner. This change is being treated a big deal in the literary world because there was traditionally a strong line between the two types of book coverage. Thus, readers often counted a book as “important” if it garnered the big three: a book review piece, a daily piece, and a profile in the paper as well.
Now there will be more centralized decision-making. Dean Baquet sent a memo to the staff announcing the change:
This may seem like simple tinkering in the flow chart. But it is large in the life of The Times and in American publishing. Currently, the line between Sunday and daily reviews — a line established when the paper was divided according to print constructs — means that the great critics Michiko Kakutani, Dwight Garner and Jennifer Senior do not write for the cover of the Review. It means that we don’t often coordinate in deciding which books are so important they deserve both a daily and a Sunday review.
We also hope this change will create a structure that will allow our critics more breathing room to do other kinds of writing — including essays that marry the world of books and the larger world. Pamela will also oversee coverage of books news, including the work of Alexandra Alter, who covers the publishing industry.
The email addresses rumors that the Book Review print edition may be shut down, but Paul’s promotion is undoubtedly going to raise some jitters about the historic section‘s fate.