American Authors and the Literary Marketplace Since 1900

James L. W. West, III, Author University of Pennsylvania Press $0 (172p) ISBN 978-0-8122-8114-9
To understand literature qua ``literature'' we must be knowledgeable about the commercialism that directs publishing, lectures the author, who teaches at Pennsylvania State University, and in this overview, which proves to be insufficiently specific for students and too academic for general readers, he attempts to address and ultimately fails both audiences. West views authorship as a cottage industry that produces literary piecework for publishers to turn into saleable goods and writers themselves as economically classless and thus unprotected by professionalization or unionization in the free-enterprise economy. Noting a paucity of post-1950 archival materialthe information covering our own day, however, proves to be the most interesting in the studyhe concentrates on late 19th and early 20th century authors and publishers, tracking the evolving book industry as transportation systems and book clubs expanded distribution, bookstore chains made their impact, literary agents emerged as a force. West is savvy about ancillary rightstranslation, reprints, etc. ``recycling'' that reaps continuing income from even less-than-blockbuster books. ( November )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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