Recently, The Denver Post published the following note:

Starting today, we are changing the way we present our print coverage of books and reading in The Denver Post. Rather than separating our reviews, interviews and columns into a single section, we are integrating the coverage into the rest of our A&E pages, in the same way we present such topics as theater, music and film.

You will see books stories on the cover of the Arts & Entertainment section … and we’ll still reserve a few tightly organized pages inside … so you can check out new releases and see what’s selling best. We’ll also give a midweek report on new books each Wednesday in the back of the newspaper’s Food section.

It’s not actually clear from this whether the Post is cutting down on book coverage. Maybe they’re only planning to take the same amount of page space that they gave to books in the past and redistribute it around the paper. I hope so. But it’s entirely possible that “integrating the coverage” is simply what you get when you don’t have enough material to fill a section anymore. And if you saw the meager two pages given to books in last Sunday’s edition, it’s hard not to feel dispirited.

I once had the opportunity to chat with a newspaper publisher, and something he said that stayed with me was this: out of all the bits he had to cut from his paper over the years (sections, columnists, etc.), the only time it had inspired angry letters was when he cut a comic strip.

There are two things to notice about this. One is that people really like their comic strips. The other is that publishers actually do pay attention to the mail that they get.

Book lovers, if you’ve ever read a review in the Denver Post, please — take two minutes to send a note to tell the Post that book coverage is important to you, and that book coverage influences your decision to read the paper. Send your note to Ray Mark Rinaldi, Arts & Entertainment Editor, rrinaldi@denverpost.com.

Below is the note that I sent. Feel free to steal as much of it as you like.

Dear Mr. Rinaldi,

I saw your note, published Dec. 12, about the book section, and I wanted to communicate my concern. The concept of redistributing book coverage throughout the paper seems like it has its pluses and minuses (overall, I think I preferred the standalone book section), but I’m more worried that this change in format might be only a consequence of, or excuse for, reducing book coverage in the Post.

Denver has developed a thriving literary scene in recent years, and a good part of it has been driven by the decision of the Denver Post to continue to publish a book section after many other daily papers have cut theirs. For this reader, high quality book coverage in the Post has set it apart from most of the other local and national media available to me. It’s a big part of the reason I read the paper, and I fear that if the book coverage dwindles I will have one less reason to read.

Thanks for your time and attention, sincerely,

Nick Arvin

(Cross-posted.)

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