People in book publishing are accustomed to getting free books, but that particular perk doesn’t make sense as a way to gin up excitement and generate publicity when the book in question’s target readership is people in book publishing. So in order to sell Hothouse, Boris Kachka’s history of Farrar, Straus & Giroux (which we reviewed in this week’s paper), publisher Simon & Schuster has tried a novel approach: a well-produced mailer announcing that there will be no free copies.
“Don’t even think about asking us for a free copy,” proclaims a glossy brochure that went out earlier this week. “Seriously. Don’t even think about it,” warns the back cover.
Book publishing hums along on mythology. It may not be lucrative, but the noble job of bringing books into the world is enough of a cause for many former English majors to sign up perennially. In lieu of comfortable salaries, editorial assistants are paid in anecdotes about famous authors and legends about acquisitions. The dusty gentility of yesteryear, mostly absent from today’s fluorescent corporate culture, still holds sway over the imagination.
Few publishing houses can claim to be as revered as the authors they publish, but Farrar Straus & Giroux remains one of them, as Boris Kachka illustrates in Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House. FSG’s devotion to literature, which manages to straddle the line between art and commerce, is immortalized by Mr. Kachka, a New York magazine contributing editor who has covered the publishing industry for more than a decade.
Thank goodness the eighth-floor apartment at 35 West Ninth Street is full of custom built-ins—the new owner will need a lot of shelf space for his sizable book collection.
Jonathan Galassi, publisher and president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux is leaving behind the bookish borough of Brooklyn for this sunny, Greenwich Village co-op.
On Monday Farrar, Straus and Giroux acquired a biography of Blanche Knopf—the wife of Alfred A. Knopf, founder and namesake of Random House’s rival literary imprint—by Laura Claridge.
“What’s fascinating about it is this writer has access to a tremendous cache of papers,” FSG executive editor Ileene Smith told The Observer yesterday.
Although she was Read More
New York editors and publishers tend to speak of Amy Einhorn’s success as the product of an almost mystical editorial instinct. Colleagues cite Ms. Einhorn’s “good taste;” her nose, her eye, and her gut; her unique ability to pinpoint the kinds of books that thousands of people want to read. Most Read More
“I am a vest who has appeared on a Times Square billboard and many other fine photos that have included Jeffrey Eugenides,” says the Twitter description for @EugenidesVest, the outlet for the most ignominious item in the wardrobe of the novelist Jeffrey Eugenides. The vest gained national prominence after being featured in a billboard in Times Square, where it is shown flapping in the wind as Mr. Eugenides strides forth.
The Daily Transom
When Barbara Epler received the news last week that Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer had won the Nobel Prize for literature, she had one reaction: “I said, ‘Call the printers!’” she recalled.
Ms. Epler is the president of New Directions, publisher of Mr. Tranströmer’s The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems, an anthology translated by the Scottish poet Robin Fulton. For New Directions, Mr. Tranströmer’s win was big news — by Friday its book was ranked #12 on Amazon, a rarity for the independent publisher, which is known for its commitment to publishing difficult poetry and literature in translation.
Booze & Books
Last week, The Observer discovered that before Middlesex writer Jeffrey Eugenides got socked in the face on NJ Transit, he enjoyed a $520 meal – complete with wine, cocktails, and deep conversation — from celebrated Central Park seafood spot Marea. His partner for the night was Farrar, Straus & Giroux head honcho Jonathan Galassi. Read More
Lydia Davis, David Means, and flavored vodka have far too many fans to fit on the second floor of the Russian Samovar. This was the lesson of last night’s Farrar, Straus, and Giroux reading.
The show was scheduled to start at 7; by 7:05, Samovar proprietor Roman Kaplan had placed a velvet rope at the Read More
Remember that mesmerizing video of New Yorker literary critic James Wood finger-drumming in his kitchen while his children shriek with delight? It went up back in November, when the publishing industry was melting down and nothing good at all was happening anywhere. Well, your chance to see Mr. Wood perform his secret talent Read More