Heavy Traffic & High Culture: New American Library as Literary Gatekeeper in the Paperback Revolution

Synopsis

The story of New American Library from 1946 to 1961 and of Victor Weybright, the publisher whose talismanic phrase "luster and lucre" set the cultural and financial formulas that guided this giant paperback house. Bonn employs the "gatekeeper" theory of communication to account for much of NAL's success. Explaining this theory as Weybright applied it, Bonn notes that "the tension on the gate's spring is created by the cultural contribution the work is likely to make tempered by its projected balance sheet." Weybright brought harmony to the conflicting interests of culture versus commerce; his goal was "heavy traffic, high culture," or John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, and Ernest Hemingway at the dimly remembered quarter per copy.