What we’ve been talking about is obviously important. There has been a spate, as you know, recently in the Times, and elsewhere, of writings about the terrible troubles of book publishing. At various times during these 51 years since I got into this business I’ve had to give lectures and write about book publishing. So I’ve got a slightly tired but still not-bad research file on this. There is, in effect, nothing that’s being said about the troubles of book publishing in the Computer Age that wasn’t said about the troubles of book publishing in the Movie Age, etc., etc. In the ’60s and ’70s, when I was doing all this talking and writing -- there’s nothing new under the Sun, or Mars, or Jupiter, but it takes different forms. I’m evenly divided between concern that, when I look at publishing and feel disoriented, feel a stranger in a strange land, it is more a function of my age than it is of real change. That’s one side of it.

The other side says, “Boy, it sure was a hell of a lot better.” And, for the likes of me, it was. I’m one of those rare people in publishing who had the rare opportunity to do what many people would like to do, but almost nobody gets the chance to do, which is: start a new firm. And then, have it work. And have it publish a lot of good books. We were very lucky.

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Michael Bessie, articles and books:

--, JAZZ JOURNALISM (E. P. Dutton, 1938; Russell and Russell/Atheneum, c.1969) a history of the tabloid newspapers
--, Alan Gregg, Hiram Hayden, Matthew Huxley, Alain Locke, Walter Mehring, Arthur Slesinger, Jr.
Frederick A. Weiss, “Changing Values in the Western World,” The American Scholar, 20:3 Summer 1951
--, “Quality or Survival? Or Both?” Wilson Library Bulletin, 43:1 September 1968
--, “American Writing Today: A Publisher’s Viewpoint,” Virginia Quarterly Review, 34:1 Winter 1958
--, Stephen Becker, Ralph Ellison, Albert Erskine, Hiram Hayden, Jean Stafford, William Styron, “What’s Wrong with the American Novel?” The American Scholar, 24:4 Fall 1955.

Cornelia Bessie, translations (selected):

Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, FOOL O’PARADISE, tr. Cornelia Schaeffer (Harper & Row, 1959)
Igor von Percha, PRAYER FOR AN ASSASSIN, tr. Cornelia Scheffer (Doubleday, 1959)
Jean Rostand, BESTIARE D’AMOUR,tr. Cornelia Schaeffer (Doubleday 1961)
Ilse Aichinger, HEROD’S CHILDREN, tr. Cornelia Schaeffer (Atheneum, 1964)

Bessie Books at Counterpoint:

W. Michael Blumenthal, THE INVISIBLE WALL Germans and Jews: A Personal Exploration (May 1998)
Peter Brook, THREADS OF TIME Recollections (May 1998)
Paul Ferris, DR. FREUD A Life (June 1998)
David and Marshall Fisher, TUBE The Invention of Television
Jean Lacouture, JESUITS. Tr. Jeremy Leggatt
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, INVISIBLE ALLIES. Tr. Alexis Klimoff and Michael Nicholson

Counterpoint, Washington D. C.

Distributed by Publishers Group West 800-788-3123

Articles and Books mentioned, by other writers:

Ken Auletta, “Annals of a Communications Demolition Man,” The New Yorker, November 17, 1997
Guiseppe di Lampedusa, THE LEOPARD, tr. Alexander Colquhoun (Random House, and Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1960; Pantheon, 1960)
Harper Lee, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (J. B. Lippincott, 1960;Warner Books, 1982)
Michael Ondaatje, THE ENGLISH PATIENT (Knopf, 1992; Vintage, 1993)
Art Spiegelman, MAUS A Survivor’s Tale (Pantheon, 1986); MAUS II: A Survivor’s Tale/And Here My Troubles Began (Pantheon, 1991)

See also:

Bessies, Part 1, Vol. 1, No. 4
Marion Boyars, Vol. 1, No. 3
C-Span Booknotes (see Resources)


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