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The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read Hardcover – Sep 17 2000

3.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Strong Is the New Pretty

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (Sept. 17 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859847633
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859847633
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 367 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #943,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From Publishers Weekly

The descendant of a distinguished publishing family, Schiffrin has been the gadfly of American publishing ever since he quit his post as head of Random House's Pantheon imprint in a blaze of publicity 10 years ago, complaining that the publisher's new management wanted to trim his list severely, removing from it many of the socially conscious titles he was proud to publish. He went on to found and run the New Press, which, with strong foundation support, has continued to do many of the kinds of books that Schiffrin insists should be published, but which he claims have increasingly been abandoned by big commercial houses. In this brief but pithy treatise, some of which has already appeared in Europe, Schiffrin forcefully argues that publishing only for immediate commercial return is not only economically shortsighted but culturally disastrous. Without being unduly nostalgic for the "good old days," he insists that big American publishers used to offer lists that were much better balanced between popular entertainment and necessary social and political commentary than they are today. He further argues that the attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste, which has, he says, led network television and movies in such depressing directions, has dumbed down publishing to an alarming degree, robbing it of much of its standing as a vehicle for the expression of significant ideas and outlooks that may not have instant appeal. Whether the increasing use of the Internet for publishing will prove to expand this more enlightened mission remains to be seen, but based on past experience with the urgencies of the profit motive, Schiffrin is not optimistic. His book is a salutary and sensibly written reminder of the ideals that drew so many into publishing, and that, if he is right, are so seldom reflected in it today. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“A brief, incisive social history of post-war publishing in America ... a riveting chronicle of the rise and fall of the American reader.”—Village Voice

“An absorbing account of the revolution in publishing during the last decade.”—Financial Times

“Forceful evidence that corporate insistence on higher profits has been cultural and business folly. Moreover, while arguing this position, The Business of Books provides an absorbing memoir of Schiffrin’s fascinating life.”—Business Week

“Impassioned ... a fascinating account of the post-World War II publishing scene.”—USA Today

“Newsworthy and important ... eloquent and anguished ... impassioned and filled with righteous, if quiet, indignation ... smart, thoughtful and well-presented, News told truthfully and with loving care can always bring some hope.”—The Nation

“Schiffrin takes apart the publishing industry in a detached, careful manner, as if deboning a trout. He is impressively thorough and logical.”—Rocky Mountain News

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