page looks at publishing as an industry and a culture,
highlighting general studies and profiling particular
It covers -
media groups are profiled in the separate Ketupa.net site
(around 700 pages).
business or culture
A useful starting point for thinking about publishing
(business? culture? the business of culture?) is Books:
The Culture & Commerce of Publishing (New York:
Basic 1982) by Lewis Coser, Charles Kadushin & Walker
Albert Greco's The Book Publishing Industry (Boston:
Allyn & Bacon 1997) is a crisp study, complemented
by The Structure of International Publishing in the
1990s (New Brunswick: Transaction 1992) edited by
Fred Kobrak & Beth Luey and Minders of Make-Believe:
Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American
Children's Literature (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 2008)
by Leonard Marcus. John Feather's A History of British
Publishing (London: Croom Helm 1988) is more academic;
for an equivalent of Greco see Giles Clark's
Inside Book Publishing (London: Routledge 2000).
Book Publishing in a Societal Context: Japan and the
West (Buffalo: Prometheus Books 1990) by Shigeo Minowa
offers a crosscultural perspective. For Canada see Roy
MacSkimming's The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada's
Writers (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart 2003).
Andre Schiffrin's The Business Of Books: How The International
Conglomerates Took Over Publishing & Changed The Way
We Read (New York: Verso 2000) is an outstanding
memoir by the publisher of Pantheon Books and The New
Press. Jason Epstein's Book Business: Publishing Past
Present & Future (New York: Norton 2000) is characteristically
There is a similar, although less elegant, lament in Leo
Bogart's Commercial Culture: The Media System &
the Public Interest (New Brunswick: Transaction 2000).
In Praise of Commercial Culture (Cambridge: Harvard
Uni Press 1998) by economist Tyler Cowan offers a more
convincing analysis of the market.
Clarkson Potter's Who Does What & Why In Book
Publishing (New York: Birch Lane 1990) is a slim
guide for the perplexed. Siegfried Unseld's The Author
& His Publisher (Chicago: Chicago Uni Press 1980)
is less mechanistic. Jeremy Treglown edited the uneven
but valuable Grub Street & the Ivory Tower: Literary
Journalism and Literary Scholarship from Fielding to the
Internet (New York: Oxford Uni Press 1998). For the
Grub Street era see H M Geduld's Prince of Publishers:
a Study of the Work & Career of Jacob Tonson
(Bloomington: Uni of Indiana Press 1969) and biographies
of figures such as Sam Johnson. Publishing in a later
period is profiled in Valerie Holman's Print for Victory:
Book Publishing in England 1939-45 (London: British
John Tebbel's four volume A History of Book Publishing
In America (New York: Oxford Uni Press 1972-81) is
heavy going but comprehensive. We enjoyed Thomas Whiteside's
entertaining The Blockbuster Complex: Conglomerates,
Show Business & Book Publishing (Middletown:
Wesleyan Uni Press 1981). William Charvat's Literary
Publishing in America, 1790-1850 (Amherst: Uni of
Massachusetts Press 1993) is a modern classic.
Roderick Cave's The Private Press (London:
Faber 1971) provides an introduction to the 'little presses'.
Hugh Ford's Published in Paris: American & British
Writers, Printers & Publishers in Paris 1920-1939
(London: Garnstone 1975) is an outstanding sketch
of the little presses run by Harry Crosby, Gertrude Stein,
Nancy Cunard, Robert McAlmon and Edward Titus among others.
There is a genial although thin description of the milieu
in Humphrey Carpenter's Geniuses Together: American
Writers in Paris in the 1920's (London: Unwin Hyman
1987) and Noel Riley Fitch's less engaging Sylvia Beach
& the Lost Generation (New York: Norton 1983).
Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Company (Lincoln:
Uni of Nebraska Press 1991) is a modest and elegant history,
by its owner, of the famous Paris bookshop. It is complemented
by The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier (London:
Millington 1976), Richard McDougall's translation of the
memoirs and essays of Beach's rival Adrienne Monnier.
The bad, mad and decidedly dangerous to know playboy Harry
Crosby is the subject of Black Sun: The Brief Transit
& Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby (London: Hamish
Hamilton 1976) by Geoffrey Wolff. We're just not wild
about Harry, who blew his brains out - and those of his
mistress - after getting a black sun tattooed on his feet
and running the modernist Black Sun press.
Barney Rosset boasted that his Grove Press was epochal
Grove controversial? The word is too pale for the tempests
at Grove. Say rather that Grove was a valve for pressurized
cultural energies, a breach in the dam of American Puritanism
- a whip-lashing live cable of zeitgeist. One has to
reach back to early Elizabethan Theatre to find a parallel
in terms of enraptured audience, outraged authority,
political daring, exploding passion, and the perennial
threat of censorship.
Critics might respond that such hyperbole and enthusiasm
is required in braving public indifference and sporadic
Closer to home, Jack Lindsay's Life Rarely Tells: An
Autobiography in Three Volumes (Ringwood: Penguin
1982) includes an account of his time as publisher of
the Fanfrolico Press. His partner P R 'Inky' Stephenson
is described in Wild Man of Letters (Melbourne:
Melbourne Uni Press 1984) by Craig Munro and in two articles
by Richard Fotheringham in the March and June 1972 issues
Both feature in the festschrift Culture & History:
Essays presented to Jack Lindsay (Sydney: Hale &
Iremonger 1984) edited by Bernard Smith; it includes a
checklist of Fanfrolico Press books.
We note the celebration of the work of Canberra publisher
Alec Bolton in A Licence to Print: Alec Bolton &
the Brindabella Press (Canberra: Friends of the National
Library of Australia 1993) and the Preserving the Ephemeral:
Katharine Brisbane & Currency Press (Canberra:
Friends of the National Library of Australia 1995) compiled
by John Golder.
Richard Kennedy's A Boy At The Hogarth Press (London:
Penguin 1978) is a slight but charming memoir by Virginia
& Leonard Woolf's printers devil. John Lehman's
I Am My Brother (London: Longmans 1960) is weightier
but more acidulous.
There's another perspective in Beauty & the Book:
Fine Editions & Cultural Distinction in America
(New Haven: Yale Uni Press 2000) by Megan Benton.
Scoundrel Horace Liveright, co-founder of the Modern
Library, was described by Tom Dardis in the so-so
Firebrand: The Life of Horace Liveright, the Man Who
Changed American Publishing (New York: Random 1995).
Changing American publishing is an exaggeration but Liveright
deserves thanks for the creation of Hollywood gothic.
Importing Dracula onto the sound stage in a "censorproof
way to present outrageous themes of oral sexuality, insanity
and borderline necrophilia (What after all was the kiss
of Dracula if not sex with a walking corpse?)" makes
publisher and gameshow star Bennett Cerf - author of At
Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf (New York:
Random 1977) look quite tame. Ellen Ballou's The
Building of the House: Houghton Mifflin's Formative Years
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1970) is a standard history.
Charles Scribner's In the Company of Writers (New
York: Scribners 1991) and In the Web of Ideas (New
York: Scribners 1993) are thoughtful memoirs by the last
of that publishing dynasty. Michael Winship's American
Literary Publishing In the Mid-19th Century: The Business
of Ticknor & Fields (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni
Press 1995) is exemplary.
has an online corporate history.
Allen Lane, King Penguin (London: Hutchinson
1980) is the standard biography by John Morpurgo of the
founder of the Penguin empire, now owned by the theme
parks to merchant banking conglomerate Pearson.
He was influenced by having Lane as his father-in-law
and employer. Differing views on the effect and basis
of the second paperback revolution - the first having
occurred in Germany seventy years prior to Penguin - are
given in successive issues of online journal
The Culture of Publishing.
Steve Hare edited Penguin Portrait: Allen Lane
& the Penguin Editors 1935-70 (London: Penguin
1995), a collection of letters and reports by the penguins.
It is entertaining but perhaps too self-indulgent and
anecdotal. Lane's predecessor is the subject of Elkin
Matthews: Publisher to Yeats, Joyce, Pound (Madison:
Uni of Wisconsin Press 1989) by James Nelson.
First With the News: The Story of WH Smith 1792-1972
(Garden City: Doubleday 1985) by Charles Wilson profiles
the distributor and retailer whose founder was the model
for Gilbert & Sullivan's Sir Joseph Porter KCB.
Peter McDonald's British Literary Culture & Publishing
Practice 1880-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press
1997) is less striking than Pegasus In Harness: Victorian
Publishing & W M Thackeray (Charlottesville: Uni
Press of Virginia 1991) by leading US editor Peter Shillingsburg.
James Nelson's The Early Nineties: The View from the
Bodley Head (Cambridge: Harvard Uni Press 1971) deals
with the publisher of Henry James and the Yellow Book.
Kurt Wolff founded leading publishers in both Weimar Germany
and the USA - Kurt Wolff Verlag and Pantheon Books. Michael
Ermarth's Kurt Wolff: A Portrait in Essays & Letters
(Chicago: Uni of Chicago Press 1991) covers his relations
with Hesse, Mann, Grass, Kafka, Kraus, Rilke and Pasternak
among others through a selection of Wolff's writings.
Among studies of academic publishing we recommend
MH Black's Cambridge University Press, 1584-1984
(Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1984), Peter Sutcliffe's
The Oxford University Press (Oxford: Oxford Uni
Press 1978) and Heinz Sarkowski's Springer-Verlag:
History of a Scientific Publishing House (Berlin:
Wilmarth Lewis - Yale Skull-&-Bones member, Standard
Oil heir, spook, editor and publisher of the 48 volume
collected correspondence of Horace Walpole - features
in the perceptive Cloak & Gown: Scholars in America's
Secret War (London: Collins 87) by Robin Winks and
in his own more reticent One Man's Education (New
York: Knopf 1967).
While there is much truth in the jingle that "those
who can't write, teach; those who can't teach, edit"
we should be grateful for the example of Lewis and his
mate Ralph Isham, memorably described in David Buchanan's
The Treasure of Auchinleck: The Story of the Boswell
Papers (London: Heinemann 1975), one of those tales
that combines scholarship with the excitement of the treasure
hunt in describing the rediscovery and publication of
James Boswell's papers by more of the Skull-&-Bones
William McGuire supplies an excessively reverential account
of the Bollingen Press (Gulf Oil money publishing Jung
and other proto-New Agers who found flying saucers - and
the occasional Nazi - at the bottom of their gardens)
in Bollingen: An Adventure in Collecting the Past
(Princeton: Bollingen 1982).
Australian expatriate Louise Hanson-Dyer, founder of L'Oiseau-Lyre
records and the Lyrebird Press is the subject of Lyrebird
Rising: Louise Hanson-Dyer of L'Oiseau-Lyre 1884-1962
(Melbourne: Melbourne Uni Press 1994) by Jim Davidson.
Germany, France and Scandinavia
The Ketupa.net profiles of the Bertelsmann
point to resources on imprints of the major German groups,
such as Gottfried Bermann Fischer's Bedroht - Bewahrt
(Frankfurt am Main: S Fischer 1981) and Peter de Mendelssohn's
outstanding S Fischer und sein Verlag (Frankfurt:
Fischer 1970). For Tauchnitz see Tauchnitz International
Editions in English 1841-1955, A Bibliographical History
(New Castle: Oak Knoll 2005) by William Todd & Ann
There is similar coverage of the Scandinavian and French
conglomerates such as Schibsted.
Dewey Ganzel's Fortune & Mens Eyes (London:
Oxford Uni Press 86) is a dry but fascinating account
of the life and misdemeanours of master forger and bibliomaniac
'Dirty Book' publisher Maurice Girodias stars in Venus
Bound: The Erotic Voyage of the Olympia Press & Its
Writers (New York: Random 1994) by journalist John
De St Jorre. Girodias's The Frog Prince: An Autobiography
(New York: Crown 1980) is less trustworthy but more entertaining.
For a scholarly study we recommend Patrick Kearney's The
Paris Olympia Press (London: Black Spring 1987). Neil
Pearson's Obelisk: A history of Jack Kahane and the
Obelisk Press (Liverpool: Liverpool Uni Press 2007)
is an account of Girodias' father.
Studies of other publishers and publishing regimes are
highlighted in the discussion
of print censorship
As starting points turn to the uneven but invaluable
A History of the Book in Australia: A National Culture
in a Colonised Market, 1891-1945 (St Lucia: Uni of
Queensland Press 2001) edited by Martyn Lyons and Paper
Empires: The History of the Book In Australia 1946-2005
(St Lucia: Uni of Queensland Press 2006) edited by Craig
Munro & Robyn Sheahan-Bright and Making Books:
Contemporary Australian Publishing (St Lucia: Uni
of Queensland Press 2007) edited by David Carter &
For Angus & Robertson see John Holroyd's George
Robertson (Melbourne: Robertson & Mullens 1968),
Jacqueline Kent's A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis,
A Literary Life (Ringwood: Viking 2001) and AW Barker's
Dear Robertson, Letters to an Australian Publisher
(Sydney: Angus & Robertson 1982). Other works include
Frank Eyre's Oxford in Australia, 1890-1978 (Melbourne:
Oxford Uni Press 1978), Stuart Sayers' The Company
of Books: A Short History of the Lothian Book Companies
(Melbourne: Lothian 1988) and Michael Zifcak's My
Life in Print (Melbourne: Lothian 2006).
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