I'm willing to go along with Lorin Stein's proposal that American book critics be given their share of government bail-out money, provided a few conditions are established and observed:
No money shall be given to print-based publications "that already review" unless the current slate of editors and most prominent reviewers agree to resign. These are, after all, the very people who have plunged print criticism into its current crisis through their decisions to write and publish vacuous reviews of no long-term merit, and should the publications they represent continue to print book reviews, these people should not profit from their past violations of the public trust.
If money is provided for "funding start-ups in the spirit of the New York Review," those entrusted with editorial decisions in these new entities cannot be the same old hacks who elsewhere have plunged print criticism, etc. They should not be allowed to convert these publications into forums for political and social commentary easily enough handled in other kinds of publications not called "book reviews" and to exclude fiction and poetry so thoroughly from consideration that eventually only the occasional nod to well-known writers or biographies of same are ever printed in these organs. They should hire reviewers who actually like fiction and poetry, and these should be "start-up" reviewers as well, not tied to the superannuated publishing and critical establishments whose depradations the bail-out money is meant to counteract.
All parties receiving bail-out money will pledge to resist the idea that criticism is part of the "commerce of culture." If the the purpose of literary criticism is, as Ms. Stein suggests, to separate "quality from hype" and to serve a "free press devoted to books," the notion that either literature or literary criticism has something to do with what's called "commerce" must be disregarded at all costs.
Finally, if literary criticism is conceived by either editors or reviewers as part of an effort to allow readers "to find out what's actually good, short of reading the books themselves," the entire bail-out program must be immediately terminated. No money should be expended on "criticism" as consumer guidance, criticism that actually discourages readers from "reading the books themselves" and making their own judgments. Only book reviews that accurately and fairly represent the books under review without rendering judgments appropriate to the courtroom but not to the "free" experience of literature will be allowed under this program.