Herbert Lottman, journalist, biographer, historian of French intellectual life and the longtime European correspondent for Publishers Weekly, died August 27 in his adopted hometown of Paris after suffering through a long series of degenerative diseases, among them Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. He was 87.
Lottman was PW's European correspondent for more than 30 years. He was the consummate publishing journalist. An American who settled in Paris after WWII, he was completely bilingual and deeply versed in French culture. He went on to contribute a variety of articles and reviews to such American periodicals as Harper's, Saturday Review, the New York Times and the New York Times Book Review. Lottman was a particularly keen student of France before, during and after the war, and wrote several books about the country and its literary culture, including a work on the fall of Paris to the Nazis in 1940. He went on to become the author of a series of authoritative studies of French authors Camus, Flaubert, Colette, and Jules Verne as well as a book on the Michelin family.
Lottman was hired in the late 1960s by then PW editor Arnold Ehrlich to expand the magazine's reach into continental Europe, at a time when European publishers were increasingly interested in buying rights to American books. Lottman quickly got to know all the major players in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands and wrote regular reports for the magazine on their interactions with U.S. publishers.
He was a regular at the Frankfurt Book Fair, invited to gatherings that PW's American representatives knew nothing about, and always had an up-to-the-minute report on the fair's highlights. In later years, he would also attend the London Book Fair, and would always come to the U.S. to track the overseas participation in the ABA convention and later BookExpo America. He even journeyed more than once to Mexico's Guadalajara fair. When there was no major event to report on, Lottman delivered a regular monthly European letter to the magazine.
Sometime around 2002, when Reed Elsevier, PW’s former parent company, decided it could no longer support a European correspondent, PW’s editor at the time, John Baker, had to travel to Paris to officially tell Lottman his services were no longer required—as demanded by French law for French employees of overseas companies. After leaving PW, Lottman immediately began contributing a regular European column to PW's British counterpart, the Bookseller.
Lottman will be buried in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. He is survived by his wife Marianne Veron, one of the foremost French translators of English and American literature, who always accompanied him on his travels; two sons, Aurelien and Jeremie; and three grandchildren.