Jordan Michael Smith reports in this week's Jewish Daily Forward that a new book review journal will be launched next week (with February 15 the scheduled publication date). The new periodical will be called the Jewish Review of Books, and, from the illustration that accompanies the Forward article, it looks like its format and appearance will be much like the New York Review of Books.
A quarterly magazine devoted to Jewish literary and political affairs, the JRB boasts heavy hitters on its editorial board, such as Michael Walzer, Leon Wieseltier and Ruth Wisse. An oversized, stapled newsprint magazine like the New York Review of Books and The Times Literary Supplement, the JRB will open with an issue that features contributions from Ron Rosenbaum, Adam Kirsch and Harvey Pekar....Given today's unsteady, uncertain environment for print media, launching a new publication -- especially a journal of ideas rather than, say, a gossip, sports, or entertainment magazine -- requires a large measure of bravery and even more confidence. Not to say chutzpah.
Abraham Socher, the editor ... took a leave from his spot as chair of the Jewish studies program at Oberlin College’s department of religion to launch the JRB. He’s both optimistic about the future of journals of ideas and opinions and well aware of the pitfalls that await any print publication in the 21st century.
“Magazines of ideas, which are willing to address a subject at as much length as is called for, which are willing to let writers be writerly, can remain print publications,” Socher said. Those readers attracted to long-form writing prefer to read their lengthier articles in print and are willing to pay for the privilege, Socher believes. “The great threat to print may be a far greater threat to newspapers and news magazines than it is to literary journals, journals of opinions and policy journals,” he said. The print JRB will be complemented by a Web presence before the end of February.
(Cross-posted from Book Reviews by Rick Sincere)