Grazia has run its last dedicated books page, 'Shelf Life', under books editor Alexandra Heminsley after a redesign.
Heminsley has revealed “frustration” over the changes while the magazine revealed a greater focus on the authors’ backstories and self-help along with round-ups dictated by trending search terms. The 'Shelf Life' page ran a review each week with a theme for five other suggested reads on the same theme.
Heminsley said: “I am sure that the editorial team don’t undervalue books, but what I suspect is that books coverage doesn’t bring in the advertising budget that fashion or beauty coverage do. It’s hugely frustrating as readers always give positive feedback to books coverage, but it has left me looking forward to moving my own books coverage online, where I can use my own voice and speak to an audience whose interests I know well as I interact with them daily, on everything from teething to Bullet Journaling.”
Heminsley filed her last column earlier this month. She will now be posting reviews every Wednesday on her Instagram. She has one memoir under contract with Chatto & Windus, and two novels with Litte, Brown. Her bestselling memoir, Running Like a Girl (Windmill Books), was published in 2013 and she co-authored Judy Murray's memoir, published by C&W in summer 2017.
Grazia UK has said it will continue with books coverage but has hinted at more of an emphasis on non-fiction.
The magazine said: “We’re responding to the recent research in which readers told us how they want us to cover the latest books. Of course they want recommendations of the latest, new book to read now – which is why we’ll always be including a review of a new release in our 'It’s The Week To...' page and our columnist Polly Vernon will be talking about her favourite reads in her column. We will also continue to seasonal round-ups of new releases across print and digital, driven by trending search terms.
“But as well as the straight reviews, our readers also want something smart to say about the latest books – and to understand the backstory of the authors. Which is why we’ve also done a very powerful feature with Emily Dean about her new memoir in this week’s issue, as well as speaking to Sara Cox for her new autobiography on our back page. And in our regular 'Life Skills' spread we’ll be profiling a new self help book, too. As always, we would love to hear from any book publicists or authors who have ideas that might work well for Grazia.”
The changes come two months after The Pool website went into administration, owing many freelancers and staff out of pocket, with many in the publishing industry lamenting the loss of its books content. In 2017, The Bookseller reported on the mounting pressure of review coverage, including the axing of half the Press Association's output along with some women’s magazines scrapping their dedicated books editor role.