After a year as The New York Times' books editor, Jones will take a big career step to take charge at the glossy Conde Nast publication that Graydon Carter has led for 25 years, following Tina Brown.
Jones, who was the second in command of the Times' book coverage under Pamela Paul, will now report to Vogue editor and Conde Nast mag chief Anna Wintour.
While Carter sponsored lavish Hollywood parties and was chauffeured around New York in a limousine, Jones will cope with declining revenues and staff cutbacks. The 44-year-old Harvard and Columbia alum will also seek to boost online profits.
Jones takes over Dec. 11. Longtime Vanity Fair readers are ready for changes to a magazine that had grown stale and formulaic under Carter.
For years, I read the print version of Vanity Fair, so heavy with ads that my hands ached holding it. I also feared that the magazine's artificial perfume smell was causing lung damage.
Under Carter, and Brown, Vanity Fair had a split personality of liberal politics, investigative pieces, long and boring looks at long-forgotten jet setters, Hollywood puffery and soft-porn cheesecake. It also suffered from a couple of self-indulgent features that only Carter found amusing.
Now, I read the reduced Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker, in the electronic format. The format is easy to navigate, although the New Yorker's magazine mode doesn't allow the viewing of cartoons.
News stories on Jones' appointment at Vanity Fair hinted that she'll bring in sorely needed new writers. For years, Vanity Fair has offered the same stable of David Kamp, James Wolcott, Michael Lewis and others. With Maureen Orth's increasingly infrequent appearances, the magazine acquired a definite male-heavy tone.
Vanity Fair never found strong replacements for the late Christopher Hitchens and Dominick Dunne. I love Annie Leibovitz, but even her photographs grow wearisome month after month.
Jones formerly was the chief editor at the Paris Review, and I'll be happy if she keeps my favorite feature, Sloane Crosley's witty sentence-long book reviews. Also, please preserve the Proust Questionnaire. Everything else should receive the Radhika radar.