Situations -- Saab, Gourmet -- where a company might rather close a money-losing subsdiary than sell it to a firm that might successfully turn it around have been a topic of interest here. The latest example is Nielsen Business Media's decision to close Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus gave a nasty, ideologically biased review to my Samuel Adams book, so the news draws more interest from me than it might otherwise. You'd think that some buyer -- either a bottom-fishing vulture investor or someone ideologically minded who'd like a chance to shape the debate with a first word on books that gets read by bookstore buyers and library purchasers and is reprinted on some of the ecommerce book sites -- would make a lowball offer and have some fun with it. Maybe such an offer has already been made but wasn't high enough to entice Nielsen to risk the embarassment of having a buyer make a success of a publication that was failing under its ownership. On the other hand, this may be another example of the trend away from centralized taste-making a la the Kirkus review and toward more democratic, user-generated content, like the user-generated reviews on Amazon.com. The same week Kirkus announced it was closing, GoodReads, which says it has 2.8 million registered users, announced a round of venture capital financing, that, as reported by Publisher's Lunch, is "close to $2 million." GoodReads is founded by Otis Chandler, whose family used to own and run the Los Angeles Times, which stopped publishing its Sunday book review as a separate section back in 1997. How's that for creative destruction and the self-correction of a market, as opposed to the government subsidy that the New York Times quoted historian David Brinkley suggesting in the N.Y. Times article on the demise of the Washington Post's Book World?
Kirkus Reviews Gets the Gourmet, Saab Treatment
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