Sunday, February 15, 2009

Adding It Up: We review the February 15, 2009 Sunday New York Times Book Review

The New York Times Book Review for February 15, 2009 is 28 pages, four pages more than recent issues, and it's also doing better where it's most crucial: in ad copy.

The cover has no ads. Since other sections of the paper, including the front page, now have ads, we still think ads would be a good idea here. There's too much wasted space around the first three paragraphs to Joe Nocera's great review of a book about the last Great Depression. This would be a great place for New York Review of Books-style personals.

Page 2: Full-page ad for a novel by a doctor published by Knopf. Much better than the recent ads for New York Times products, which didn't count.

Page 3: Table of contents page has side ad for a First Lady roman a clef from Random House not as good as Gore Vidal's Washington, D.C., which has a cameo by a thinly disguised version of the author's half-sister's half-sister's half-sister, in which a young faux-Jackie shakes hands with Harry Truman and is breathless at how sexy he is. Counts as 40% of a page, we'd say.

Page 4: The Editors' "Up Front" flanked by, on the left, a Bantam ad for a memoir copy describes as "hilarious and heart-tugging," and, on the right, a New York Times Store product about food, which doesn't count. Another 40% of a page.

Page 5: Wow, a full-page ad for the reprints of a "classic novel" made into film with attractive celebrities and other books by the dead author. There's 23 pages left and already this week's NYTBR has beat out the entire Feb. 1 issue's entire ad space. Way to go, Display Advertising! Those cannolis we sent must have helped!

Page 6: Another 40% ad on the left next to the boring letters to the editor. It's for some Irishy book with the obligatory Frank McCourt blurb.

Page 7: OMG. Yet another full-pager, for Bose. Wasn't that Oscar Wilde's pet name for his bf?

Page 8: No ads except for the NYTBR itself. Nice pic of the Barry Sisters, though.

Page 9: Little right-hand column ad for a book with "Boca" in the title. What a coincidence: we just ate a Boca burger (seriously!) and used to write a little right-hand column for the Boca Raton News.

Page 10: No ads.

Page 11: No ads.

Page 12: Bupkis.

Page 13: Bottom half-page ad for a book that's changed the way people think about changing the world. (No, it's not Skinny Bitch.)

Page 14: Zilch.

Page 15: Nothing in the way of ads.

Page 16: To the left of the children's best sellers list (do any actual children look at this?) is a 40% ad for non-book products related to "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," a series we can't resist since our grandfather's company Art Pants and our father's Pants Set stores kept us in mass-market paperback money for the first thirty years of our life.

Page 17: No ads.

Page 18: No ads.

Page 19: Nothing.

Page 20: No ads.

Page 21: Two right-hand ads for a writers conference at a once-good Southern college and a book about something serious involving Sinhalese and Tamils. Counts as 40% of a page.

Page 22: No ads.

Page 23: Another 40% of a page ad on the right, for a novel written with compassion and hilarity, a sequel to a beloved bestseller, published by Forge.

Page 24: No ads.

Page 25: Yet another 40% of a page ad on the right, for a book from Other Press, which is a mainstay of NYTBR's ads.

Page 26: Down to two little classifieds and two ads for New York Times products. Counts as no ads.

Page 27: Since Jim Holt's controversial Essay (its thesis: death ain't so good for you) is oh so cleverly shaped like a tombstone, there is white space on the left and right but no ad copy there. A bigger waste than death, if you ask us. We'd at least squeeze in some plugs for the New York Times Store there.

Page 28: Full-page ad in the back. Bauman Rare Books comes through again! Where were you guys last week when we needed you?

Adding it up: Four full page ads. One half-page ad. Seven ads we'll count as 40% each equals 2.8 pages. We'll give another one-fifth of a page for the Boca Knights ad. That makes seven and a half (7 and 1/2) pages out of 28 pages. That's more than a quarter (25%) of this week's New York Times Book Review given over to the important stuff.

We are impressed, since two weeks ago only a little more than a tenth (10%) of the Feb. 1 issue was devoted to ads.

We are sending two dozen rugelach to the Times display advertising department as a reward and an inducement to keep up the good work.

If you guys are the types that need negative reinforcement, keep your copies of today's last Washington Post Book World handy!

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