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Friday, October 26, 2007

NYTimes.com Launches 'Reading Room,' a New Feature of the Book Section

NYTimes.com announced today the launch of Reading Room: Conversations About Great Books (http://readingroom.blogs.nytimes.com/), a new, online forum of expert panelists in discussion with editors from The New York Times Book Review about classic books. The book club is one of several enhancements The Times recently made to its book coverage online (www.nytimes.com/books) and in the print edition.

Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review, will interview Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, translators of a newly published edition of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace," the first Reading Room selection. The interview is featured in the Book Review's weekly podcast on Oct. 26 - launching a four-week discussion of the book.

Reading Room features in-depth analysis of classic books, with regular updates from the panelists, in response to plot summaries and questions from the host. Readers' comments are invited and the panelists will sometimes respond in subsequent posts.

"Reading Room is a perfect way for The Times to dedicate more coverage to books we greatly admire," said Mr. Tanenhaus. "For each book, we'll choose an all-star cast of panelists from various backgrounds - authors, reviewers, scholars and journalists - for a unique online conversation with Times editors, a conversation that we hope our readers will heartily join."

The first panel discussion includes Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, who reported from the newspaper's Moscow bureau from Dec. 1986 to Oct. 1991; Stephen Kotkin, who teaches history and directs the program in Russian and Eurasian studies at Princeton University; the writer Francine Prose, whose most recent book is "Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them"; and Liesl Schillinger, a regular contributor to the Book Review, who studied comparative literature and Russian at Yale and lived in Moscow in 1993, when she was an editor of the English supplement of Moscow Magazine and wrote dispatches for The New Republic.

The other enhanced features include: a "Local Bookseller" button on the Best Sellers Web pages with click-through service to BookSense.com, a site linking to independently-owned area bookstores; separate fiction best-seller lists for trade and mass-market paperbacks; longer best-seller lists - trade and mass-market paperback lists now carry 20 titles instead of 15 and the Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous lists now carry 10 titles instead of five; weekly podcasts hosted by Mr. Tanenhaus and featuring a range of authors and critics, such as Stephen L. Carter, Maureen Dowd and Jeffrey Toobin; Paper Cuts, a blog written by senior editor Dwight Garner; and modifications last month to the Book Review's layout and design.

NYTimes.com continues to reach a large, educated and affluent audience. It is the most visited newspaper site in the U.S. with an audience of 14.7 million unique users (September 2007 - Nielsen//NetRatings).

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