December 2009 | Steve Alburty

Kirkus Reviews won't anymore

Kirkus Reviews, the little digest that could make or break an upcoming book with a pre-publication review, is ceasing publication.

Librarians and independent book publishers relied on Kirkus since 1933 to help make its buying decisions, The staff of Kirkus was small, but it relied on a huge network of freelance reviewers to publish as many as 5,000 reviews per year in its bi-weekly publication.

Kirkus fell victim to the trend in publishing towards conglomeration. consolidation, and, ultimately, disconnection. Kirkus had become the business equivalent of krill.

It was part of the stable of publications owned by Nielsen Business Media, which controlled such diverse titles as the Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, Back Stage, and the Clio Awards. Rumors swirled earlier this month that Lachland Murdoch (yes, that Murdoch) was about to buy the whole lot, but at the last minute, the group was purchased by a consortium of investors which included Alan Schwartz, the former Chief Executive Officer of the now-deceased Bear-Stearns and James Finkelstein, whose own conglomerate, News Communications Inc., controls publications including the Hill, covering the nation's capital, and the Who's Who directories.

A spokesman for Nielsen Business Media said Kirkus was "no longer aligned with our strategy." The spokesman declined to elucidate on what that strategy was.

Kirkus will not be missed by everyone. The New York Observer has quoted literary agent Ira Silverberg as saying "Hearing about their closing reminded me that they were still publishing."

Librarians and independent booksellers will now be free to rely on less-expensive alternatives to select their purchases: dart-boards and Ouija boards.