PRINT April 2010


Life has no shape; literature has.

—Northrop Frye, “Renaissance of Books” (1976)*

NOTE: Some say publishing is dying. But the paperback revolution (1932–) isn’t threatened by new technologies like the e-book and print-on-demand. To generate titles, the revolution promotes revolution in all fields. The revolution works alongside all other modes of content distribution, such as the book-club edition, the comic, the chapbook, the hardback, and the magazine, to locate the real-world minimum value of a book. There’s been a counterrevolution, however, and it is threatened by the new technology. The true-crime story of this counterrevolution is best told by distinguished publisher André Schiffrin, ex of Pantheon Books, in his harrowing The Business of Books: How International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read. Writing on the eve of the 2000 American presidential

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