Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Diminishing UK book review pages concern publicists

In the UK, book publicists have spoken to the Bookseller of their ‘shock’ and ‘concern’ over the lack of books coverage in the country’s national newspapers. Recent cutbacks to UK books coverage include the loss of Telegraph children’s specialist Lorna Bradbury and the Independent’s Arifa Akbar and Katy Guest, the closure of the Guardian’s children’s books site and literary editor Rosemary Goring’s move from being a permanent staffer across the Herald, Sunday Herald and the National into a freelance role. UK publicists such as PR agency Four Colman Getty account director Katy MacMillan-Scott described these recent losses as ‘a shock to all those working in the literary world’. ‘On the surface, it feels like a time of unprecedented change for the industry, a sad loss of supportive, publishing-savvy literary contacts and trusted review opportunities,’ said MacMillan-Scott. Transworld director of media relations Alison Barrow emphasised that review coverage in ‘the traditional and respected press is still a key sales-driver for readers’. Charlotte Heathcote, arts editor for newspaper the Daily Express and literary editor for S magazine, said ‘it’s not books being singled out’ as newspapers are seeing cuts across the board. She said, ‘The whole nature of journalism is changing. The great danger is that eventually there won’t be an influential platform in print media for books coverage, [in order] to get behind new books.’ Barrow speculated that ‘most’ literary editors would say reduced books coverage is also related to diminishing advertising from publishers. However, she added: ‘At Transworld we have found that print advertising for the right books is really effective.’ Publicists touted new opportunities, including digital-only publications such as the Pool, Emerald Street and Mr Hyde, as well as social media, podcasts, book vloggers and online communities such as Mumsnet. ‘A great campaign should target a combination of media, both traditional and online, as well as [going] direct to consumers,’ said Barrow.


Category: International news