Over at tnr.com, the online home of The New Republic, they’ve launched “The Book: An Online Review,” which is much like what it sounds. In his introduction, Isaac Chotiner shares plans to publish the same sort of book reviews and essays found in the print edition of the magazine. New reviews will appear four to five days a week, along with material from TNR’s archives, reviews of forgotten or neglected books, long letters from readers, and a section called LitTube, featuring videos of writers. They’ll also have aggregated links to reviews and essays on the main page of the site, which may prove a nice counterpoint to the expansive and highly regarded Arts & Letters Daily.
Overall, the venture looks rather ambitious and promising. But there is at least one bit of Chotiner’s introduction that I quibble with. He laments that “the absence of any site for the serious consideration of serious books is also a fact of the web.” Fortunately, that’s not true. Although they may not have the institutional prestige of The New Republic, nor always the resources to pay writers, here are some web-only outlets that show a deep intellectual engagement with books and literary culture:
- The Quarterly Conversation
- Three Percent
- The Millions
- The Critical Flame
- The Second Pass
- Words Without Borders
- Open Letters Monthly
- Barnes & Noble Review
I urge Isaac Chotiner and Leon Wieseltier to take a look at these sites, if they are unfamiliar with them. They all publish excellent work—too much, perhaps, for one person to keep up with—and many of them feature very talented writers who are sometimes paid in nothing more than advance reader copies. (I’d be remiss for not mentioning The Complete Review, which over the years has led me to several of these sites. There are also, I’m sure, many sites I’m missing that deserve to be on the above list, including some, like Bookforum, that publish a print edition as well.)
I have high hopes for “The Book: An Online Review,” but its editors should turn to some of these experienced denizens of the LitWeb. Working with them would only further the kind of dialogue and serious debate, the vibrant digital literary landscape, that we all seek and that, in some respects, is already here.