Can You Hear the Readers Sing?

By Neal Comment

We told you earlier this week about Sandy Dijkstra‘s saber-rattling at San Diego Union-Tribune management over the paper’s plans to eliminate a stand-alone book review section and fold literary coverage into the Sunday arts pages. The A-list agent has been leaking her side of the correspondence she’s conducted with the paper over the issue, so we know just how intently she refuses to back down. “You probably already know that a storm of concern and of protest is gathering,” Dijkstra tells U-T editor Karin Winner. “I cannot predict how large it will grow, but I do hope that you will listen to your loyal readers, who are also booklovers, like you and me.”

After politely rejecting a undetailed “compromise… for future book coverage” (no doubt a recap of the paper’s announced plans), Dijkstra complains, “I am not alone in worrying that over time, books will get shorter and shorter shrift, and IF newspapers like yours continue to shrink their national and international coverage, books will become even more essential, and you readers will need to know what is being published. And, then there are the novels that won’t be reviewed.” Then she tries cajoling Winner, suggesting the Union-Tribune is a “cash cow” that should easily be able to afford a book review section with only one permanent staffer. (Even with the competition from Craigslist, Dijkstra insists, “you virtually OWN San Diego, which is a HUGE market.”) And then, she lays down her ace card—no, not the threats of funeral performance art and “read-ins” that she tossed around earlier in the week:

“IF you would be willing to reconsider your decision, I would be willing to take the initiative to contact the Association of Authors’ Representatives, and I’m sure that they will want to reach out to major American publishers, urging them to guarantee a certain level of advertising, so that they can to continue to experience the benefits of Reviews such as the U-T’s. I cannot promise a positive response, nor can I gauge what level they might offer, IF they do that. But, we can certainly make them more aware that they need to step forward.”

Because there’s nothing publishers love more than agents telling them they aren’t buying enough ads, right?