Agreeable eye.

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The Business of Books

André Schiffrin. The Business of Books. London: Verso, 2000.

Schiffrin’s book is both memoir and anecdotal criticism of the publishing industry. Starting at the New American Library of World Literature (a Penguin clone) in the 1950s, he moved on to Pantheon which was then acquired by Random House, then S.I. Newhouse, and finally Bertelsmann. He became increasingly unhappy in the corporate environment, primarily because of:

After Schiffrin left Pantheon, he started The New Press, which clearly addresses some of the concerns he felt with the big five (then six). He is cautiously optimistic about digital publishing (in 2000), but dubious about the future of publishing as a social/cultural enterprise. Overall, it’s a thought-provoking and aggravating account of the state of the business in the late twentieth century.


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