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. The offices are located near Times Square in New York City.
The New York Times has published a book review section since October 10, 1896, announcing:
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. Books are selected by the "preview editors" who read over 1,500 advance galleys a year. 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.
Pamela Paul was named Senior Editor in spring 2013. Sam Tanenhaus was Senior Editor from the spring of 2004 to spring 2013.
Best Books of the Year and Notable Books
Each year, around the beginning of December, a "100 Notable Books of the Year" list is published. It contains fiction and non-fiction titles of books previously reviewed, 50 of each. 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.
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. 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.
A study published in 2012, by University professor and author Roxane Gay, found that 90 percent of the New York Times book reviews published in 2011 were of books by white authors. Gay said, "The numbers reflect the overall trend in publishing where the majority of books published are written by white writers." At the time of the report, the racial makeup of the United States was 72 percent white.
- The New York Times Book Review, home page.
- The New York Times, October 10, 1896. Inaugural book review issue (announced on page 4, column 1)
- Interviews with senior editors and writers at the NYTBR, by Michael Orbach, The Knight News, Issue date: 2/8/07 Section: Knight Life
- The Man Behind the Criticism: Sam Tanenhaus (via Wayback Machine)
- Question and Answer: Dwight Garner (via Wayback Machine)
- Question and Answer: Liesl Schillinger (via Wayback Machine)
- Question and Answer: Rachel Donadio (via Wayback Machine)
- "Are The New York Times Book Reviews Fair?", Tell Me More, National Public Radio, August 20, 2010
- "Secret Workings Of Times Book Review Exposed!", Choir, Feb 24, 2007