87 Tex. L. Rev. 1205 (2008-2009)
The Vanishing Book Review in Student-Edited Law Reviews and Potential Responses

handle is hein.journals/tlr87 and id is 1219 raw text is: Essay

The Vanishing Book Review in Student-Edited Law
Reviews and Potential Responses
Sanford Levinson*
I.   Introduction: The shrinkage of the book review issue of the University
of Michigan Law Review as the most dramatic symptom of a national
disease
Roughly a decade ago, University of Michigan law professor Carl
Schneider published an interesting essay' detailing the history of the book
review issue established by the Michigan Law Review during his tenure as
editor in chief in 1979. He presented many good reasons for the decision of
the editors to devote one full issue a year to reviewing books (note that I do
not say the books, since there are obviously far more books published than
could possibly be reviewed) that were deemed of potential interest to one or
another member of the disparate communities-lawyers, academics, judges,
students, perhaps a few nonlawyers-who constitute the readership of the
Review. He was justifiably proud of his creation, noting, among other things
(though without the evidentiary footnote beloved by many law-review
editors), his altogether justifiable suspicion that it is the best-read issue of
any law review in the country.2 Indeed, writing on the twentieth anniver-
sary of the creation of the book-review issue, he correctly wrote that [t]he
need for it is greater than ever.,3 After all, [l]aw professors are writing
books at an ever-brisker rate. Their work grows daily more interdisciplinary,
and so does their need to keep abreast of the books published in many
fields. And it is not only the need to keep up with one's own field that is
* W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, The University
of Texas School of Law.
1. Carl E. Schneider, The Book Review Issue: An Owner's Guide, 96 MICH. L. REv. 1363
(1998).
2. Id. at 1375.
3. Id. at 1370.
4. Id. Note, for example, the data provided in a statistical compilation of U.S. book publication
between 1993 and 2004. In 1999, for example, there were 3,078 books published on law (which
represented a slight drop from the numbers of law books published in 1993 and 1995). Bookwire,
U.S. Book Production, http://www.bookwire.com/decadebookproduction.html. One would assume
that many people interested in law would be interested in some of the 14,579 books published on
sociology and economics (a rise over the earlier years) or the 7,486 books (also a rise) published on
history. Id. By 2004, incidentally, the respective numbers were 3,152 (law); 17,518 (sociology and
economics); and 10,451 (history). Id. There were also 8,842 books published on philosophy in
2004, at least some of which would presumably have interested serious students of law. Id.

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