After the hubbub about whether book reviews are losing ground to bloggers, noted here, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune seem to have come to the conclusion: if you can't beat them, join them. The new NYT book blog is Paper Cuts, and the Chicago Trib has launched Trib Books.
It will be interesting to see how a blog at a venerable institution like The New York Times fits in the more rough and tumble blogosphere. The blog may signal the way it has positioned itself by its title. Paper cuts come from working with...paper. Books have been published on paper for centuries. Whether books will be published on paper in future centuries is open to question. Authors, editors and sometimes readers got paper cuts in the past. In the future they may suffer a malady we have not yet imagined. So as the New York Times Book Section reaches into the future (or into the present?) with a blog, Paper Cuts situates itself in the settled history of book publishing, into the present conceptualization of the book.
A conceptual tie with the past is something historians might not object to, but find special value in. One of the best things about the blogosphere is its diversity, and it would be unfortunate for Paper Cuts to try be like other book blogs, rather than to find its own personality. Paper Cuts promises some retrospectives, and it opened with a look back, to book advertisements from 1962-73. The first week included a round-up of various Sunday book sections. More interesting is a discussion of Chinua Achebe's recent Booker Prize. It could be especially interesting on the book biz.
TribBooks seems to be warming up, with some book news and a preview of a review to appear in the paper. The high quality of Trib book reviews has often stemmed from good matches between interesting titles and scholars who can write about them for a broad readership. Let's hope the Trib will bring that quality to its blog as well.
There are enough good book blogs that I'm planning a book blogroll. I will change the "Publisher Blogs and Websites" listing on the left, after Law and History Links, to something like "Book and Press Blogs and Press Websites." I'll keep the regular website links for important university press websites that don't have a blog. If you have favorites book blogs that I should include, please mention in a comment, and I'll check them out.