Wednesday, January 07, 2009

On authors and publishers.

"The publisher is the partner, the help of the author and his high servant or minister to the people. It is work worthy of large men and of high-minded men. Honest men we are—those of us who conduct the publishing houses that are in good repute. But I sometimes think that we miss being large men; for we do not do our business in (shall I say?) a statesmanlike manner. We imitate the manners of tradesmen. We speak in the vocabulary of tradesmen. We are too likely to look at small projects as important—to pay our heed to the mere tricks of our trade—and to treat large enterprises, if we have them, as if they were but part of the routine. A good book is a Big Thing, a thing to be thankful to heaven for. It is a great day for any of us when we can put our imprint on it. Here is a chance for reverence, for something like consecration. And the man or the woman who can write a good book is a form of capital infinitely more attractive than a large bank account or a great publishing 'plant.' Yet, if we regard an author simply as 'capital,' we are not worthy to serve him."

Walter H. Page [of Doubleday, Page], A Publisher's Confession [1905], 169–70.

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