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Critical condition

Book reviewing may seem in reasonable health. But the authority of critics is being undermined by a raucous blogging culture and an increasingly commercial publishing industry. Literary journalism needs to get better if it is to survive

By William Skidelsky   February 2008

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In America in recent months, there has been an outbreak of agonising about the state of book reviewing. Several long articles—and one widely reviewed book: Faint Praise, by Gail Pool—have appeared proclaiming the genre to be if not moribund, then at least in a condition of semi-decrepitude. These concerns have been prompted, most immediately, by the slimming down of book review sections in the US print media. In the last few years, the books pages of most major US papers—as well as a host of smaller ones—have had their word counts slashed,…

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