Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century is an unusual anthology. It’s a collection of 20 essay by literary tastemakers, publishers, writers, and what might be called “thought-leaders” about the ways publishing has changed since the turn of the millennium. It has been, as you’ll recall, a big sixteen years, with the rise of Amazon, the economic downturn, the closure of many, many bookstores, the popularization of e-books, and much more. These are all topics we’ve been discussing and debating within the book biz for years, and covering here at Publishers Weekly. But this isn’t a book about that discussion, exactly; it’s about that discussion from a particular perspective: that of the “literary” publisher, writer, and reader.
The editors--Travis Kurowski, Wayne Miller, and Kevin Prufer, all literary writers and editors themselves--are reluctant to firmly define literary for the purposes of this book. But it suffices to say it’s where art--rather than entertainment and commerce--and publishing intersect. So the discussions unfolding in these essays--by or about folks like Agni editor Sven Birkerts, Poets & Writers editor Kevin Larimer, VIDA co-founder Erin Belieu, and publisher and consultant Richard Nash--concern not just mainstream publishing issues but literary journals, university presses, translation, comics, and a lot more.
You may not agree with many of these contributors. But that’s part of the fun. More than a book of problems and solutions identified, this is an insider’s look at how the technological and economic changes of the last decade and a half have affected one part of the book world, which also happens to be the part that many in the book biz personally identify with. It’s less a guide and more a near-term history book of our little corner of the world. You should read it.