The Future of the Book Review

A recap of AHA 2015's Session 175, "The Future of the Book Review"


  1. This roundtable session featured two traditional book review editors, one online book review editor, the book reviews editor for a journal, and the editor-in-chief at Princeton University Press:
  2. Brigitta van Rheinberg, Princeton University Press
    John Palattella, The Nation
    Sarah Covington, Renaissance Quarterly
    Timothy Michael Law, Marginalia Review of Books
    Michael Kazin, Georgetown University and Dissent
    Chair: David Bell, Princeton University
  3. Rheinberg started us off with context on how the publicity game has changed for authors, whether you're working with a university or trade press.
  4. Along with changing expectations for authors, publicists' jobs are now different, too:
  5. This poses challenges but also opportunities. In passing, Rheinberg mentioned a theme that would come up repeatedly in this session: the "democratization" of the book review.
  6. Next up, John Palattella (whose name every single one of the live-tweeters, myself included, misspelled) surveyed the landscape from the perspective of The Nation.
  7. Both @mauracunningham and I noted an odd media conservatism in these discussions. The assumption of the panel seemed to be that since traditional print media was dying, the book review was in trouble, too. And yet, while the message of the session was what that book reviewing is actually fairly vibrant, new outlets, like online reviews, book reviewing podcasts, blogs, etc., seemed an afterthought for most of the panelists. Instead, everybody was really, really excited about the Wall Street Journal's dedication to book reviewing.