The New York Times Book Review

The New York Times Book Review
The New York Times Book Review

Cover from June 13, 2004
Editor Sam Tanenhaus
Frequency Weekly
First issue October 10, 1896 (1896-October-10)
Company The New York Times
Based in New York, New York

The New York Times Book Review is a weekly paper-magazine supplement to The New York Times in which current non-fiction and fiction books are reviewed. It is one of the most influential and widely read book review publications in the industry.[1] The offices are located near Times Square in New York City. Sam Tanenhaus has been the Senior Editor since the spring of 2004.

The New York Times has published a book review section since October 10, 1896, announcing:

"We begin today the publication of a Supplement which contains reviews of new books .. and other interesting matter .. associated with news of the day." (October 10, 1896)

The target audience is an intelligent, general-interest adult reader. The Times publishes two versions each week, one with a cover price sold via subscription, bookstores and newsstands; the other with no cover price included as an insert in each Sunday edition of the Times (the copies are otherwise identical).

Each week the NYTBR receives 750 to 1000 books from authors and publishers in the mail of which 20 to 30 are chosen for review. The selection process is based on finding books that are important and notable, as well as discovering new authors whose books stand above the crowd. Self published books are generally not reviewed as a matter of policy. Books not selected for review are stored in a "discard room" and then sold. As of 2006, Barnes & Noble arrived about once a month to purchase the contents of the discard room, and the proceeds are then donated by NYTBR to charities. Books that are actually reviewed are usually donated to the reviewer.

There are two types of reviewers, those in-house on staff, and those commissioned by the NYTBR to do the review. For outside reviewers, they are assigned an in-house "preview editor" who works with them in creating the final review. Most reviews are done by outside reviewers. Other duties on staff include a number of Senior Editors and a Chief Editor; a team of Copy Editors; a Letter Pages Editor who reads letters to the editor; columnists who write weekly columns, such as the "Paperback Row" column; a Production Editor; a web and Internet publishing division; and other jobs.

In addition to the magazine there is an Internet site that offers additional content, including audio interviews with authors, called the "Book Review Podcast".

The book review publishes each week the widely cited and influential New York Times' Best Seller list, which is created by the editors of the Times "News Surveys" department.

Each year, around the beginning of December, a "100 Notable Books of the Year" is published.[2] It contains fiction and non-fiction, 50 of each. The list has prestige among publishers with book jackets usually mention being chosen. From the list of 100, 10 books are award the "Best Books of the Year", 5 each of fiction and non-fiction. Other year-end lists include the Best Illustrated Children’s Books, in which 10 books are chosen by a panel of judges.

Effect on book sales

In 2010, Stanford professors Alan Sorenson and Jonah Berger published a study examining the effect on book sales from positive or negative reviews in the New York Times Book Review.[3] They found all books benefited from positive reviews while popular or well known authors were negatively impacted by negative reviews. Lesser-known authors benefited from negative reviews, in other words bad publicity actually boosted book sales.[4]


  1. ^ Inside the New York Times Book Review--Editor Sam Tanenhaus and Staff, one-hour documentary from Book TV covers the production of the October 29, 2006 issue with editor Sam Tanenhaus and staff. First aired Oct 17, 2006. Available for viewing here. Unless otherwise noted it is the primary source for this article.
  2. ^ "HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE; 100 Notable Books of 2010". The New York Times: p. 28. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2011.  (page has links to previous years also)
  3. ^ Alan Sorenson, Jonah Berger. "Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales". Marketing Science, Vol. 29, No. 5, September–October 2010, pp. 815–827.
  4. ^ "Bad publicity may boost book sales", Jenny Thai, The Stanford Daily, Feb. 23 2011

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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