Wasserman Says Farewell

The San Francisco Chronicle gives oddly extensive coverage to Steve Wasserman’s resignation as LA Times Book Review editor. Chronicle book critic David Kipen writes an appreciation of Wasserman’s tenure, and a long feature story discusses the departure, adding some not-widely-reported background to his resignation– Wasserman was rankled because the LAT cut costs by discontinuing mailing out complimentary LATBRs to influential bookish types. Wasserman heard about this from “the guy in the mailroom.” Excerpt after the jump:

(links via L.A. Observed)

While book-world buzzsters speculated about the physics of Wasserman’s leave-taking (“Did he jump or was he pushed?”), the answer appears to lie in series of unfortunate events.

[…]

[L]ast year, the paper halted the nearly 2,000 complimentary mailings – – the list includes authors such as Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, plus influential editors and publishers — without telling Wasserman. “My perception is that it was one of the first signs of a lack of support,” says Dijkstra.

Wendy Lesser of the Threepenny Review says, “Steve made that book review into something that everybody that I know wanted to read and talk about. But when they took away his comp list — his ability to send complimentary copies to the cream of the book world — it was a ridiculous economic move. They saved a few thousand dollars, but they lost a nationwide, extremely literate audience.”

“It’s true,” Wasserman confirms. “The comp list ended in October 2004, as a cost-cutting move. I learned about it from the guy in the mailroom.”