Margaret Sullivan, on a New York Times Public Editor’s Journal, explores the non-system behind selecting books for review:
I often hear from Times readers who are puzzled, and sometimes annoyed, that a single book is getting so much attention when other worthy books get no notice at all. It can seem odd, especially when two reviews appear within days of each other.
I talked to Scott Heller, theater and books editor, about the frequent duplication and the amount of attention sometimes heaped on one author. He explained that The Times’s three staff book critics — Michiko Kakutani, Janet Maslin and Dwight Garner — make their own decisions about what to review. They do so without regard to, or knowledge of, what the editors of the Sunday Book Review, a separate entity, may have assigned or have planned. The Book Review has its own editor and staff.
It is worth reading the comments, which are almost universally critical of the systemless system described. What do you think?