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>Book TV

>I’ve never watched it. Is it really this bad?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Andy J Smith illustration says:

    >I don’t think this show (station?) will (or is intended to) be a replacement for reading. In my opinion, anything that generates interest in reading is a good thing. I am not a big proponent of television, but TV is not bad just because it’s TV.

    But I haven’t seen the channel in action (and honestly, likely will not)… so I’ll zip it.

    Having said, that, I’ll stick take that channel blind, over Kalder’s mock pick… Bridezillas.

  2. Debby Garfinkle says:

    >It really is that bad. Snooze Central.

    Years ago, I wrote to them, asking them to feature novels too. I never heard back.

    I haven’t watched it in years, but apparently it hasn’t changed.

  3. >No, it’s not, at least not all the time.

    First, you have to know that BOOK-TV *ONLY* features non-fiction books, so if you don’t read non-fiction and don’t enjoy it, then don’t pick on the channel for that reason. To the extent that the “popular” non-fiction titles currently being published are boring, then the programs tend to be also (as they have the last few months). When the book or subject of the book has some interest to you, a BOOK-TV program can come close to attending a bookstore reading for those of us who don’t live in or near bigger cities where authors on tour regularly stop.

    You can learn a lot. Biographies are particularly intriguing, as are histories of little known or remembered events in American history.

    My feeling on the American tip in the titles is that it’s a natural tendency, given that the channel is associated with a television network (non-commercial, which again argues for its lack of production value) that covers the United States Congress.

    Like other C-SPAN coverage, “production value” is not BOOK-TV’s intent or purpose. You don’t watch C-SPAN for dance productions and terrific photography of mountain scenes. The unedited, “just set a camera and let it roll,” viewing is what fans like me enjoy about both C-SPAN and BOOK-TV. It’s the fly on the wall approach–no editing, no analysis.

    I remember one title covered was indeed by a British author and was also funny: Truss’s _EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES. One of my favorites was not funny at all, but fascinating just the same–it was about the history and continual editing of the _Oxford English Dictionary_. My family laughs at me about the latter, but it really was fascinating!

    I’m surprised that a British writer especially, when the Brits are known for such dry programming on their *commercial* shows, would not see the value of BOOK-TV. It’s a useful service of C-SPAN to an educated American citizenry.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >I quite like it, actually.


  5. >Well, it’s that bad if you prefer Bridezillas.

  6. >Book TV is C-Span for author readings. That’s all it wants to be, that’s all it says it is. That’s all it is.

    Besides, will you really trust a critic that doesn’t think Little Britain is hysterical?

  7. >I am also chiming in to say BookTV has some positive qualities. Sometimes it’s a snooze, if you’re not interested in the subject of the book, but I saw a really interesting interview with Connie Schultz, and a great reading by A. Scott Berg.

  8. Anonymous says:

    >It can’t be that bad, Roger, because you’ve been on it.

    I think they’ve since stopped, but they used to televise (not live) the Newbery/Caldecott press announcements. You were definitely visible the year you were on Newbery. I’d know that back of the head anywhere.

    They’ve had other children’s lit stuff occasionally too, such as a Leonard Marcus speech. And yes, as mentioned upthread, it’s the same low-tech single-camera approach they take to Congressional speechmaking.

  9. >Paul Krugman is on Book-TV today. (It’s easy for the British to make fun of Book-TV — they get real news over there.)

  10. Dawn of the Read says:

    >Oh…I’ve tried to watch it many times, and I do think it is that bad.

    It troubles me to think that is what the cable loving masses think books are all about. If that was my major source of info on them, I’d avoid books like the plague!

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