Anyone with even a passing interest in books is by now painfully aware of the struggles the publishing industry is currently undergoing. Troubles came to a head last December when widespread layoffs were announced at both Random House and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (which had already ceased accepting manuscripts). Meanwhile, book sections nation-wide have consistently been the early casualties of newspaper cutbacks — another one fell last week with the announcement that the Washington Post Book World would cease to exist as a stand-alone publication.
Enter Tina Brown, who just this week announced the addition of the Book Beast page to her recently-launched website The Daily Beast. According to Brown the page, which currently features a compendium of recommendations, new and newly relevant books (Oprah, and John Updike among them), video interviews with authors such as John Grisham, as well as book-skewed articles like a current piece on Norman Mailer’s writing legacy, was just a natural extension of the book coverage The Daily Beast already provides. It is also a space Brown feels is very necessary at the moment.
“It’s really important to support books and I am so distressed by what is happening to the publishing world,” she told us over the phone yesterday. “Book sections are closing everywhere and as an author, and an editor, and even for a time a publisher with Talk Miramax Books, I just care very much about writers and what’s happening to them and how they spend their time writing all these fabulous books that can never even really get an airing.”
The goal of the page, says Brown, is to “provide space on the site for reviews, video commentary, and news about books.”
“We want to provide readers with a rich experience of the content of these books and the chance to buy them.” Does this mean links to booksellers will be included in the coverage? “Yes,” says Brown, “Why not save everybody time.”
Furthermore the Book Beast will also feature excerpts. “In England we used to do many more book excerpts in the newspaper every day. I think so many books are published with fabulous content and there’s very little place for a good book excerpt to go. It’s a great way to sample and taste a book and decide whether you want to buy it or not.”
As to what other developments might be in store for the site down the road Brown says “We are continually in evolution at the Daily Beast.”