Between Covers

Between Covers : Rise and Transformation of Book Publishing in America

3.88 (9 ratings by Goodreads)
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Between Covers goes behind the famous imprints to tell the often surprising story of the men and women who have made up more than two centuries of American book publishing. The only comprehensive, single-volume history of the profession, it is a book rich in life and color, in anecdote and biography. John Tebbel offers fascinating portraits of the founders of the great houses--the Harper brothers, George Palmer Putnam, the Scribners, Henry Oscar Houghton, among them--as well as of the figures who led the industry after the First World War--Alfred A. Knopf, Horace Liveright, Bennett Cerf, Stanley Rinehart, Alfred Harcourt, and many others. Tebbel traces the evolution of the industry through a fascinating series of developments: the astonishing rise of paperbacks before the Civil War, book selling through subscription, the great fiction boom of the 1890s, bouts with censorship, the tremendous growth of specialized publishing, and the escalating role of advertising, promotion, and publicity. The closing pages deal with the explosion in mass market publishing of the postwar era and the entry of conglomerates, and examine the state of publishing today. Based on the author's monumental four-volume History of Book Publishing in the United States, Between Covers will be of enormous appeal to everyone who loves books and reading.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 524 pages
  • 160.02 x 238.76 x 40.64mm | 1,043.26g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195041895
  • 9780195041897

Review Text

This 475-page abridgment of the author's scholarly four-volume edition, while not exactly bedside reading, is a thoroughly documented and lovingly compiled narrative and sourcebook. Reading this one-volume history, it's hard to imagine where Tebell could have come up with enough information to fill three more. There's that much detail. Be. ginning with the first presses in the New World, imported from England, and the Puritan tracts they produced, Tebell comes all the way to 1985 and the rumored possibility of a Doubleday sale. The book has four chronological divisons: up to the Civil War, 1865 to 1919, "The Golden Age Between Two Wars" and "The Great Change" thereafter. In each section he keeps a running log of all the major houses and the people who run them. He also examines industrial changes like the rise of paperbacks before the Civil War and after and the great fiction boom between 1890 and 1914. The secondary topics explored include censorship, erotic books, the rise of book clubs and of children's and young adult books. Of course the book is most interesting when anecdotes manage to bring authors and editors alive. There are good profiles of Max Perkins and Alfred Knopf, Jr. And learning the noteworthy gaffs in publishing is always a laugh, like Harper & Row's rejection of Alice in Wonderland, or William Styron's refusal, as a McGraw-Hill reader, of Kon-Tiki. Interesting, too, to discover what kinds of books have sold well at different periods in American history, like the now unknown escapist novel Anthony Adverse during the Depression, and war fiction during WW II. But most of all Tebell, a traditionalist, mourns the post-war changes that have made American literature "processed, stylized, serialized, Hollywoodized, networked, televisioned, merged and high-priced." Dense with information, a who's who and who was who to the publishing industry, Between Covers is authoritative and smooth reading. It will appeal both to those inside the industry and those outside with a keen fascination for it. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

9 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 33% (3)
4 22% (2)
3 44% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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