By James L. W. West III
This e-book examines literary authorship within the 20th century and covers such themes as publishing, e-book distribution, the alternate editor, the literary agent, the journal marketplace, subsidiary rights, and the blockbuster mentality.
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A venturcsome ganbler, a relentless merchandiser, or a conservative backlistbuilder? There is no single ans\ver. Authors and publishers often come together by chance; son~eti~nes an author is dissatisfied with a previous house, or the ne\v house is rumored to be the "right" kind of firm. Most of the matches are imperfect, but occasionally an author does find an entirely compatible publisher. For example, a 11ear1y perfect authorpublisher relationship from the period covered in this study is the one between Alfred A.
These various factors-the backlist, cross-subsidization, fixed and ninning costs, the advance, and price maintenance-have had a daily influence on the operations of publishing houses, on their business strategies, and on the methods they have used in liandling their authors. Other matters, not discussed here, have also been of great importance: developments in printing technolog); cha~igesin postal regulations, variations' in customs laws, and shifts in international copyright agreements. Each of these factors has influenced some phase of the publishing industry, and all of them have conibi~iedto influence the business pliilosopliies of individual houses or, in a larger and more general way, of particular literary periods.
61--2, 152-53. Distribution 141 pecially true in publishing. Cheap paperback (or "~ello\vback")firms salv that there were new readers to be serviced in the Midwest and South and i ~ the i Northeast as well. Twice (in tlie 1840s and again in tlie 1880s and 1890s) they seized the main chance and attempted to reach these buyers through wildcat paperback publishi~ig-pirated titles, cheap materials, long press runs, lo\v prices, and nontraditional outlets. Nearly all of the established trade publishers in New York and Philadelphia decided not to compete with these price-cutters; only the Harpers and, later, the Appletons tried to issue lilies of clieap books as co~npetitionfor the spcculators.
American Authors and the Literary Marketplace Since 1900 by James L. W. West III