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Salon Book Award

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Title: Salon Book Award  
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Salon Book Award

Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site News website
Registration Optional
Available language(s) English
Owner Salon Media Group
Created by David Talbot
Editor David Daley (interim)
Launched 1995
Salon is a news aggregation website created by David Talbot in 1995 and part of Salon Media Group (). It focuses on U.S. politics and current affairs, and on reviews and articles about music, books and films.[1][2]

Salon's headquarters is located near downtown San Francisco, California.[3] As of June 2013, its interim editor is David Daley, after editor-in-chief Kerry Lauerman stepped down to partner with Larer Ventures on a new startup.[4] Lauerman's predecessor Joan Walsh stepped down from that position in November 2010 but remained as editor at large.[5]

Content and coverage

Salon magazine covers a variety of topics. It has reviews and articles about music, books, and films.[3] It also has articles about "modern life", including relationships, friendships and human sexual behavior. It covers technology, with a particular focus on the free software/open source movement.

In 2008, Salon launched the interactive initiative Open Salon, a social content site/blog network for its readers.

Responding to the question, "How far do you go with the tabloid sensibility to get readers?", former editor-in-chief David Talbot said:

Is Salon more tabloid-like? Yeah, we've made no secret of that. I've said all along that our formula here is that we're a smart tabloid. If by tabloid what you mean is you're trying to reach a popular audience, trying to write topics that are viscerally important to a readership, whether it's the story about the mother in Houston who drowned her five children or the story on the missing intern in Washington, Chandra Levy.[6]

Staff and contributors

Regular contributors include the political opinion writer Alex Pareene; political analyst Steve Kornacki and David Sirota; critics Laura Miller and Andrew O'Hehir; pop-culture columnist Mary Elizabeth Williams; aviation columnist Patrick Smith; Tracy Clark-Flory writing on feminist and gender topics; advice columnist Cary Tennis; and economics writer Andrew Leonard.

David Talbot is founder and original editor-in-chief. He has served several stints as CEO,[7] most recently replacing Richard Gingras who left to join Google as head of news products in July 2011.[8] The company's current CEO and CTO is Cynthia Jeffers.[9] Kerry Lauerman is the editor-in-chief, Gail Williams manages The WELL, and Norman Blashka is the CFO and VP of Operations.

In April 2010 Salon hired Alex Pareene, a writer for Gawker Media, to write about politics.[10] Pareene composes the site's Hack 30: The Worst Pundits in America, a list of people described as "the most predictable, banal, intellectually dishonest and all-around hacky newspaper columnists, cable news shouting heads and political opinion-mongers working today."[11][12]


Salon was founded by David Talbot[13] and was first published in 1995. It purchased the virtual community The WELL in April 1999, and made its initial public offering of on the NASDAQ stock exchange on June 22 of that year.

Salon Premium, a pay-to-view (online) content subscription was introduced on April 25, 2001. The service signed over 130,000 subscribers and staved off discontinuation of services. However, less than two years later, in November 2002, the company announced it had accumulated cash and non-cash losses of $80 million, and by February 2003 it was having difficulty paying its rent, and made an appeal for donations to keep the company running.

On October 9, 2003, Michael O'Donnell, the chief executive and president of Salon Media Group, said he was leaving the company after seven years because it was "time for a change." When he left, had accrued $83.6 million in losses since its inception, and its stock traded for 5¢ on the OTC Bulletin Board. David Talbot, Salon's chairman and editor-in-chief at the time, became the new chief executive. Elizabeth "Betsy" Hambrecht, then Salon's chief financial officer, became the president.

In July 2008, Salon launched Open Salon, a "social content site" and "curated blog network".[14] It was nominated for a 2009 National Magazine Award.[15] in the category "best interactive feature."

On June 10, 2011, Salon closed its online chat board Table Talk. has not given an official reason for ending that section of its site.[16]

On July 16, 2012, Salon announced that it will be featuring content from Mondoweiss.[17]

In September 2012, Salon Media Group sold The WELL to the group of members.[18]

Business model and operations

Salon has been unprofitable through its entire history. Since 2007, the company has been dependent on ongoing cash injections from board Chairman John Warnock and William Hambrecht, father of former Salon CEO Elizabeth Hambrecht. During the nine months ended December 31, 2012, these cash contributions amounted to $3.4 million, compared to revenue in the same period of $2.7 million.[19]

Aspects of the site offerings, ordered by advancing date:

  • Free content, around 15 new articles posted per-day, revenues wholly derived from in-page advertisements.
    • Per-day new content was reduced for a time.
  • Salon Premium subscription. Approximately 20 percent of new content made available to subscribers only. Other subscription benefits included free magazines and ad-free viewing. Larger, more conspicuous ad units introduced for non-subscribers.
  • A hybrid subscription model. Readers now can read content by viewing a 15-second full screen advertisement to earn a "day pass" or gain access by subscribing to Salon Premium.
  • After Salon Premium subscriptions declined from about 100,000 to 10,000, it was rebranded in 2011 as Salon Core subscriptions featuring a different mix of benefits.[7]

Salon Book Awards and What To Read Awards

From 1996 to 2011, the Salon Book Awards were an annual literary award given by the editors of to fiction and nonfiction books published the previous year. The editors' criteria for winning books are:

the books we'd wholeheartedly recommend to our friends, books we'd clear our social calendar to finish, books we returned to eagerly even when we could barely focus our eyes on a page. They remind us of why we fell in love with reading and why we keep at it in a world that's simultaneously cluttered with mediocre books and increasingly indifferent to the written word.[20]

In 2012, a new award was established called What To Read Awards after the Salon column "What to Read", although Laura Miller continued to maintain a separate Best Books of the Year top-10 list. The What to Read Awards were chosen as follows:

we surveyed our favorite book critics, both print and online, from high-profile publications to the hottest literary blogs. We asked for their top-10 books of 2012, and then tabulated the winners by assigning 10 points for a No. 1 selection, 9 for No. 2, all the way to 1 point for No. 10.[21]

What To Read Awards winners


New award established as "What To Read Awards" with books chosen by a system of points from an array of other journalists top-10 lists.[21] See also Laura Miller's top-10 picks.[22]

  1. Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers
  2. Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
  3. Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  4. Zadie Smith, NW, and Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree (co-winners)
  5. Sheila Heti, How Should a Person Be
  6. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
  7. Lauren Groff, Arcadia
  8. Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins
  9. Sarah Manguso, The Guardians

Salon Book Awards winners








No awards were given for the year of 2002.







  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
  • Atmospheric Disturbances: A Novel by Rivka Galchen
  • Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker
  • The Likeness by Tana French
  • The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
  • A Person of Interest: A Novel by Susan Choi
  • Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris
  • The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order by Joan Wickersham
  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale




See also


External links

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