With the publishing business changing daily, making it ever
more difficult to get published, two recent New York Times stories were
heartening. They highlight the importance of independent-minded editors and
small presses now and in the past.
In his review of The Letters of Sylvia Beach
(1887-1962), Dwight Garner writes about the literary figure’s courage to publish Ulysses when no one else would touch it. He says:
“If the world’s dwindling
independent bookstores have a patron saint, an exemplar to cling to in moments
of duress, she is Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), the soulful and fearless owner of
Shakespeare & Company, the English-language bookstore she founded in Paris
in 1919 and operated on the Left Bank until the German occupation during World
Beach was the first publisher of
James Joyce’s Ulysses and helped
smuggle copies to readers in the United States.
writes about Paul Harding, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. After his novel Tinkers was rejected by many publishers because “Nobody wants to
read a slow, contemplative, meditative, quiet book” it was picked up by “the
tiny” Bellevue Literary Press.
Harding has high praise for Erika
Goldman, the editorial director of Bellevue, whom he describes as a “deeply
empathetic reader”; Lise Solomon, a sales representative in Northern California
for Consortium, the book’s distributor, who passionately advocated for the
novel with booksellers; and the booksellers and critics who embraced the book
--Elfrieda Abbe, publisher
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