August 11, 2004

HE WAS MY NORTH, MY SOUTH, MY EAST, MY WEST...(via mc & The Other Brother):

C-SPAN Writes Last Chapter Of 'Booknotes'
(Tommy Nguyen, August 11, 2004, Washington Post)

In announcing the cancellation of "Booknotes" -- C-SPAN's popular author interview program -- yesterday, host Brian Lamb was haunted by the numbers. He spends 20 hours each week reading books in preparation for "Booknotes," he estimates. That's 1.8 years of his life that have been dedicated to reading since the show debuted April 2, 1989. Now he wants to reclaim some of that time for his personal life.

Has it come to this? The author-interviewer, arguably the most quirky and dedicated on television, the creator and curator of one of TV's few institutions for avid readers -- has he finally tired of books?

"Oh, that's not true -- I still love reading," Lamb says. "I've never missed a show in all these years. It's been great, but I also think it seemed, in many ways, like I was always studying for a semester exam every week. Even kids in school get the summers off. I just thought it was time to do something new."

The program -- which has featured guests ranging from Bill Clinton to Shelby Foote, from Roger Mudd to Michael Moore -- will be pulled Dec. 5, when "Booknotes" celebrates its 800th author interview. [...]

On Dec. 12, "Booknotes" will be replaced by another interview program hosted by Lamb, tentatively called "Q&A," which will occasionally invite guests from the book world. More frequently, however, they will come from beyond. It's a bonus, says Lamb, if they come from the deep beyond.

"We really want to hear from new and exciting people who are not necessarily writing books, accomplished people from all walks of life," says Lamb, mentioning that politicians, journalists, doctors, scientists and historians will all be a part of his expanded Rolodex. A scenario he's counting on for the show's development sees him picking up the paper, turning to the back pages and finding a story on someone who has very little or no chance of making it on any other TV show. That's his new definition of a quality guest.

Change sucks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 11, 2004 8:52 AM

"Change sucks."

A more pithy explanation of the conservative viewpoint cannot exist.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at August 11, 2004 9:13 AM


Now I won't know what new nonfiction is really worth reading.

This is wrong; wrong, I say.

Posted by: cornetofhorse at August 11, 2004 9:16 AM

Apologies for the scatology, but this really does suck.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 11, 2004 11:29 AM

Too bad he couldn't find someone who could take over Book Notes. Clearly Lamb's interview style (being prepared, letting the interviewee respond in depth, knowing his subject while not showing off his knowledge) is different, but couldn't someone duplicate it?

I rarely had time to actually watch Book Notes, but I would always read the transcripts.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 11, 2004 11:32 AM

Given the tome of so many political books today (check out the display at the front of your local B&N, espeically if you're in a Blue state), is it any wonder why Lamb wants to get away from having to read all this stuff in order to do the show interviews?

Posted by: John at August 11, 2004 12:07 PM

Well, Mr. Judd is currently unemployed...

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 11, 2004 1:04 PM

Yes! The time has come for Orrin-Span!

Posted by: pj at August 11, 2004 1:13 PM


O-Span would be easy: just get a sheet of black cloth for the backdrop, two old, overstuffed comfortable chairs, a webcam or two, email some authors or publishers looking for publicity, and start uploading live interviews on the Website.

(And then call Mr. Lamb and say...have we got a show for you! ;) )


Posted by: Ed Driscoll at August 11, 2004 2:15 PM

You folks are treating this as a lark, but I say oj go for it!

Here is the story of Tony Rook, a fellow New Englander who founded Chess.FM, the Internet-based chess broadcaster.

Mr. Rook ain't getting rich, but chess has an inherently limited audience.

Books, on the other hand...

Posted by: tictoc at August 11, 2004 10:45 PM