Wall Street Journal set to launch weekly book review section this month, even as newspapers across country cut back on book coverage

Mathew Kearney

Mathew Kearney

NEW YORK , September 9, 2010 () – The Wall Street Journal is set to launch a weekly book review section this month, even as newspapers across the country cut back on book coverage.

The pullout section is part of an expanded Saturday edition set to appear in the next couple of weeks. The newspaper's daily book review, called Bookshelf, will continue unchanged.

Under Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. bought the Journal in 2007, the newspaper has been expanding beyond financial news to compete head on with general-interest newspapers, especially its main rival, The New York Times.

The new book section comes as other newspapers have been dropping or scaling back literary criticism. The Washington Post eliminated regular publication of its weekly Book World section last year, moving book reviews to its Style and Outlook sections. The Los Angeles Times folded its book section into the newspaper's opinion pages in 2007.

The expansion also comes as other media companies are paring their print editions and focusing more of their attention on the Web. Murdoch, a self-described "romantic" about printed newspapers, added a metro section earlier this year to compete with The New York Times.

The Times still publishes a book review section that runs more than 20 pages on Sundays. The Journal would not disclose the number of pages it plans to devote.

The new section, which was reported earlier by The New York Observer, will be led by Robert Messenger. He was an editor at the now-defunct New York Sun, from which the Journal has drawn a number of its cultural reporters and editors.

The rest of the Journal's expanded weekend edition, including the glossy WSJ. magazine and a new lifestyle section in the newspaper, will be led by Deborah Needleman. She was the founding editor of Conde Nast's Domino, a home decor magazine that folded last year.

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