The Book in America: A History of the Making and Selling of Books in the United States

The Book in America: A History of the Making and Selling of Books in the United States

The Book in America: A History of the Making and Selling of Books in the United States

The Book in America: A History of the Making and Selling of Books in the United States

Excerpt

This book, a history of the book in America, has by now its own little history. Some twenty years ago an encyclopedic dictionary of all matters concerning the book was being prepared by the Hiersemann publishing house of Leipzig. When it came to collecting material on American developments the editors of the Lexikon des gesamten Buchwesens realized that there was very little reliable information available in German. They turned to American sources, and were surprised to see how many important questions remained unanswered. There was, to be sure, a voluminous and many-sided literature, but it was uneven in quality and somewhat arbitrary in its emphasis of certain periods and subjects and in the omission of others. The Colonial period, for instance, had been much more carefully studied and recorded than the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; then again, the developments of the early twentieth century had been more eloquently described than the whole of the last century. No comprehensive accounts of printing and the allied crafts and industries, of bookselling and publishing, of book collecting and the growth of libraries could be found, which showed their continuous development from colonial times to the present day.

In 1932 the Leipzig publishing house asked if I would undertake the responsibility for a volume which would fill this gap--at least as far as the needs of European readers were concerned. This I agreed to, because the opportunity to contribute a study in answer to an actual need was tempting. Also, I welcomed the chance to render an account of experiences in the world of American books during my first years in this country. Very soon it became apparent that the responsibility was more than a single person could shoulder. Obviously, the assistance of experienced American authorities was called for. That Ruth Shepard Granniss and Lawrence C. Wroth agreed to collaborate was the best kind of encouragement which the arduous undertaking could receive. Their whole-hearted acceptance of the plan and their generous contribution of time, energy and of a great deal of patience made the book possible.

It should be explained that for the German edition the contributions . . .

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