The Guardian has confirmed it is planning the closure of its Saturday Review section, currently the home of its in-depth book review coverage.
A Guardian News & Media spokesperson told The Bookseller: "In order to ensure the Guardian is financially sustainable and delivers the journalism that best serves our readers and their interests, we are having to make some difficult decisions.
"We are proposing to make some significant changes to our Saturday print sections, including the closure of Weekend, Review, The Guide and travel. We are planning a new and exciting Saturday supplement which will deliver a range of high-quality features, culture, books and lifestyle journalism. We look forward to sharing the plans for our new print package with readers in the coming months."
It is understood that proposals for the Guardian's print offer also include making some changes to paginations.
Despite news of the demise of the Review supplement, Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner is said to be a strong supporter of books coverage at the publication.
The planned closure of the Saturday sections follows the Guardian's announcement yesterday (15th July) that 180 jobs, including 70 editorial roles, are to go at the publication. Viner and the Guardian Media Group chief executive Annette Thomas told staff in a joint statement that the pandemic had created an “unsustainable financial outlook" for the publication, with revenues expected to be down by more than £25m on the year’s budget.
"Decisive action" was needed to review costs, with the publication set to concentrate on digital growth, they said. “Despite the pressures that coronavirus has placed on our business, our unique reader relationship model has proved successful, and the strategy of the past few years has been the right one,” they added.
An early Twitter report of Review's closure by Chris Williams, the Sunday Telegraph's business editor, prompted dismay online, with author Sarah Perry responding: "This is genuinely horrible news. Though I'm conscious I speak from a position of great privilege I know I'm not alone among writers for whom getting a first review from or first piece published in the Guardian has been a proper milestone."
Novelist Amanda Craig tweeted: "This is madness! As @guardian subscriber and supporter, I beg the Scott Trust and editor to rethink....Put the daily @guardiannews online, but leave the supplements alone!" Author Kamila Shamsie called the Guardian news "deeply grim".
Many others also lamented the move, with historian Helen McCarthy tweeting: "Loss of the Review is terrible news. Sincerely hope the Guardian will find other ways to maintain high-quality arts and books coverage."