In a move that surprised those who had already mourned the passing of Kirkus Reviews, the venerable source of prepublication reviews of new books has been bought by Herb Simon, owner of the Indiana Pacers, of the National Basketball Association.
To much agonizing over what the demise means for libraries, the magazine's previous owner, Nielsen Business Media, announced last December that it would shut Kirkus down. Although it had fewer than 2,000 subscribers, the publication was still influential and a credible source of information about the quality of writing being peddled by the book industry in America. Publishers still used Kirkus blurbs on their dust jackets and some librarians still used the reviews as a selection tool. But let’s face it, many of us were more than a little amused by literary agent Ira Silverberg’s remark when the news broke: “Hearing about their closing reminded me that they were still publishing.”
Unlikely as it may seem that someone who owns a basketball team would see book reviewing as a good investment, Simon also co-owns Tecolote Books, an independent bookstore in Montecito, California. "With the growth of e-books and e-reading devices, no one can really see the future of publishing," he said in The New York Times February 10. "But turmoil like this creates opportunities. At a time when even the definition of a book is changing, my love of books makes me want to be part of the solution for the book-publishing industry."