Can we afford experts?

The big shock in the children’s books world this week was the sacking of Amanda Craig as the children’s books reviewer in the Times.

Amanda has long been a beacon in the business of children’s reading, which is hardly surprising for someone who discovered Harry Potter (in a review sort of way). She doesn’t just recommend the obvious books, but has had the taste to like unknown books by unknown authors, and her status as reviewer for the Times has made all the difference for those getting a mention in her all too tiny portion of the paper.

But the Times obviously want to save on money, and someone seems to think that ‘anyone can do it.’ After all, it’s only children’s books. Not hard, and not important.

I’m not writing this because I believe Amanda has any special rights to this job. I’m merely commenting on the way she was ‘replaced.’ Will readers trust reviews in the paper now? Will they notice? Not being a Times customer, I never read Amanda’s column, but I knew of her long before I started blogging.

As long as she has that reputation, I reckon Amanda can continue reading and reviewing children’s fiction. She might have to join the ranks of unpaid bloggers, but I’m guessing she will get the readership her reviews deserve.

Or, one of the other serious papers could snap her up. If there is one that still has funds for children’s books.

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7 responses to “Can we afford experts?

  1. I hope she finds her readership. Somehow.

  2. Am shocked. Have been a subscriber to the Times for many years, and noticed the decline in standards. The loss of Jane Shilling, then the loss of the separate “Book” section on Saturdays, which used to be a whole broadsheet paper, edited by the brilliant Erica Wagner. The latter was given a small column only when “Books” was merged with TV reviews etc, and then she disappeared altogether. I feel sorry for Amanda, she wrote some years ago of her struggle with cancer – it seemed even then that she felt insecure. I wish her well.

  3. We have to afford experts . The next generation needs books too and it is only by putting them constantly in front of adults that children will be given books to read.

  4. I have been so grateful to Amanda for her consistent support. Rather wish that the Times would now turn round to all of us who have signed protest letters (or expressed our disappointment in other ways) and say okay you lot – pledge to buy the paper every Saturday and we’ll reinstate her. She was being paid £100 a column, they’d be quids in.

  5. It’s amazing, isn’t it? If they’d paid her £100K a year, you could see it as a financial decision, but £5K? (Every penny counts… Especially some pennies.)
    But I reckon that for a review in Amanda’s name, we don’t need to see the words in the Times, for her opinion to be valid.

  6. Hoping someone else takes her on.

  7. Amanda Craig gave me my first big break, reviewing The Cat Kin in The Times before it was even published (two weeks later, I was offered a contract. Don’t think that’s a coincidence). And that aside, she is a reviewer who is invariably spot-on in her choices (ahem…) and, lest we forget, a first-rate novelist too. No, she doesn’t need The Times.

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