Dept of Newspaper Irony: Chandler Scion “Goodreads” Founder Updates the Book Section
Aug 17, 2010
L.A. Times Media columnist Jim Rainey has a knack for finding good stories about the news media and telling them well. This one, he found under his nose, or somewhere within the bowels of the mothership.
Young Otis Chandler — generation six of the family that built the Times into one of America’s great papers — talked about his four-year-old Goodreads, a social book review site that has grown to 1.7 million unique visitors a month, a 65% jump from a year ago. What Goodreads does is embrace the web and book reading, “hosts reading clubs, gives away books, sponsors author chats, offers literature quizzes and generally dissects and celebrates writing”. The website has 3.5 million members. In short, it does the kind of things that the Times flagship, or any of the companies owing papers like the Times could have/should have done, some time over the last 15 years. After all, newspapers used to be go-to places for weekly book reviews, and as editors we fought like hell to preserve book review space, even though ad departments couldn’t sell ads on those pages.
But, once again proven, it takes fresh eyes to do it.
Rainey asked Chandler how he thinks his grandfather Otis, who built the modern Times and died in 2006, would have thought about Goodreads. Noting that Chandler didn’t even own a computer, he said. “I think he would think that I am going in the right direction.” Indeed.
So if young Otis has modernized the book section, what other traditional newspaper sections are still ripe for digital modernization?