but the New York Times today sums up some of the issues that were bouncing around here a couple of weeks ago. What is perhaps most salient is that their news about blogs-and-books reaches a potential audience, in print and online, of far greater number than any blogosphere dustup does, while here it's mostly insider baseball. I find it odd, though, that Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus sets himself up as the defender of newspaper book reviews as providers of regional coverage ("While I’m all for the literary bloggers, and I think the more people that write about books the better, they’re not necessarily as regionally focused as knowledgeable, experienced long-term editors in the South or Midwest or anywhere where the most important writers come from") as if, one, that's true, or two, that's important. And is he saying that "the most important writers" are more likely to be found in one region than another? His assumption of regional origin as such a defining characteristic of writers that it needs to be nurtured by regional newspaper coverage seems evidence of someone who is ignoring the Internet, and what it's doing to social geography, at his peril. (Or maybe it's just smugness that he lives in New York.)
I'm with him on the "knowledgeable, experienced long-term editors" part (he says, anxiously patting his paycheck). This is what newspapers and the traditional review journals have, but it's not the fact that those media are disseminated on paper that gives them their value. It is simply that their authority was built in an era when book news came on paper. That is becoming less and less true. But the real distinction is not between paper and bloggers; it's between editorial authority and unsifted opinion. That's where the fight will be.