The Business of Books
Many bemoan the quality of much of the offerings of TV, print & radio. Well then, pick up a book and be freed from the tyranny of the homogenized mass media. Hold on, not so fast. We may still assume that books are the stronghold of intellectual and political independence, but the same pressures are guiding publishing as other media. Many publishing houses are owned by the corporate giants that bring us reality TV, soundbite news and lowest common denominator entertainment. Is money the only driving force in the U.S. today? Interview by David Barsamian.
Andre Schiffrin, a legend in progressive publishing, was managing director at Pantheon for 30 years, before starting The New Press. He’s the author of The Business of Books. Ever concerned about the corporate takeover of book publishing he wrote, “Books today have become mere adjuncts to the world of mass media, offering light entertainment and reassurances that all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds. The resulting control on the spread of ideas is stricter than anyone would have thought possible in a free society.” He passed away in 2013.