February 2, 2002

Book Business: Publishing Past and Future

Epstein, a prominent Random House editor, looks at the changing horizons of the book world: the demise of the independent bookstore, malls, the consolidation of publishing in a handful of conglomerates, superstores, amazon, ebooks. Epstein's intelligence, common sense, and acute observation make this the soundest book I've seen on the transformation of modern publishing. Where others sing sentimental elegies, muse upon lost golden ages, or imagine a world where art and artists are magically freed from economics, Epstein looks at the literary world as it has been and as it is becoming.

Most intriguingly, Epstein argues that the natural scale of publishing is small -- exactly the opposite of the current business wisdom. (Obviously, I'm betting with Epstein)

I've been working in new media publishing for fifteen years. Most of today's press on ebooks is wrong -- sloppy, ill-informed, substituting emotion for business sense or fostering nostalgia for an imaginary past. This singularly optimistic and well-argued book is a fine antidote.