Cover image for Book business : publishing past, present, and future
Book business : publishing past, present, and future
Epstein, Jason.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiv, 188 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Z280 .E67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"Jason Epstein has led arguably the most creative career in book publishing during the past half-century. In 1952, while a young editor at Doubleday, he created Anchor Books, which launched the so-called quality paperback revolution and established the trade paperback format. In the following decade he became cofounder of The New York Review of Books. In the 1980s he created the Library of America, the prestigious publisher of American classics, and The Reader's Catalog, the precursor of online bookselling." "In this short book he discusses the severe crisis facing the book business today - a crisis that affects writers and readers as well as publishers - and looks ahead to the radically transformed industry that will revolutionize the idea of the book as profoundly as the introduction of movable type did five centuries ago."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Jason Epstein, former editorial director of Random House, was the first recipient of the National Book Award for Distinguished Service to American Letters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Epstein knows his way around publishing; for example, he is a former editorial director of Random House, was the first recipient of the National Book Award for Distinguished Service to American Letters, created the Library of America, and was cofounder of the New York Review of Books. In this book, based on lectures Epstein delivered at the New York Public Library in 1999, he charts the development of publishing and also discusses the development of his career, beginning with his position at Doubleday, where he made his first mark on the business by initiating Anchor Books, which, it is believed, launched the paperback revolution. Indeed, Epstein's stroll down memory lane is crowded with the accomplishments and woes of many well-known publishers (such as Bennett Cerf, Horace Liveright, Alfred and Pat Knopf) and the innocent (mainly) idiosyncrasies of writers (such as Vladimir Nabokov, Theodore Dreiser, and William Faulkner). Epstein's analysis of the dire straits in which publishing finds itself is well taken and convincingly argued; the effect that the Internet will have on the industry is not as well argued but explored interestingly. It's a book that deserves to be well thumbed by writers, publishers, and agents, and, of course, librarians and readers. --Bonnie Smothers

Publisher's Weekly Review

In October 1999, Epstein, former editorial director of Random House, delivered a series of lectures at the New York Public Library that galvanized the publishing world. This book is based on those lectures. A genuine elder statesman of the industry, Epstein has spent about 50 years in publishing, during which he helped create the "paperback revolution," the New York Review of Books and the Library of America. Here, short, magisterial chapters describe the recent past of American publishing through the lens of Epstein's career, and lookDnow fearfully, now hopefullyDat the spirit of book publishing to come. Epstein explains that, in his youth, the book trade was as much vocation as business, bringing to the world the fruits of literary modernism. In more recent decades, by contrast, investors and conglomerates, he says, seeking "name-brand authors" and economies of scale, have treated books as a product like any other. New technologies, however, might reverse these baleful (as seen by Epstein) trends. This forceful if hardly startling analysis introduces Epstein's compact and compelling reminiscences, which form the bulk of the book. Each chapter includes famous names (Auden, Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, Bennett Cerf, cyber-pioneer Norbert Weiner); revealing, amusing anecdotes; and clear accounts of who paid the bills for what, and how, and why. Most strikingly, Epstein looks forward to the "worldwide village green" the digital age might createDone in which books, he says, will keep a place, and publishing will "become once more a cottage industry of diverse, creative, autonomous" work, albeit at the expense of many of the middlemen who stand between author and reader, including today's big publishers. Congenial, erudite, electrifying, this book is a must read for anyone who cares about books and their business. (Jan. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Drawing on his W.W. Norton Lectures at the New York Public Library in October 1999, publishing giant Epstein considers what's wrong with the industry today. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Editionp. ix
Prefacep. xv
Chapter 1 The Rattle of Pebblesp. 1
Chapter 2 Young Man from the Provincesp. 39
Chapter 3 Lost Illusionsp. 69
Chapter 4 Goodbye to All Thatp. 93
Chapter 5 Culture Warsp. 111
Chapter 6 Groves of Academep. 125
Chapter 7 Modern Timesp. 143
Afterwordp. 177
Indexp. 193