ALWAYS RIGHT 'The Right Wing Is Experiencing a Delicious Rush of Popularity, and Opportunist Publishers Are Responding'; Neo-Conservative Writers Drove America to War with Iraq. Now They're Invading Liberal New York Publishing

By Lindner, Elsbeth | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

ALWAYS RIGHT 'The Right Wing Is Experiencing a Delicious Rush of Popularity, and Opportunist Publishers Are Responding'; Neo-Conservative Writers Drove America to War with Iraq. Now They're Invading Liberal New York Publishing


Lindner, Elsbeth, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: ELSBETH LINDNER

AT the recent party to celebrate feminist publisher Virago's 30th birthday, the high point was a poem written and read by Margaret Atwood, reminding the audience that three decades earlier, the term "women's writing" was thought to be an oxymoron. Virago's survival is a testament to an idea whose time had come.

In the 1970s, many small presses - The Women's Press and the Writers' and Readers' Co-operative - started publishing feminist material. Their efforts were bolstered by alternative bookshops, partisan magazines such as Spare Rib and a network of committed supporters.

Now those sister imprints are dead, dying or subsumed into larger corporations. Virago is an imprint of AOL Time Warner. But campaigning women writers can be found on any conglomerate's roster of authors - Susan Faludi at Random House, Pat Barker at Penguin. Cometh the hour, cometh the imprint, and then cometh the corporation with the bigger cheque book.

New York is currently witnessing a mirror version of the birth of feminist publishing with a surge in neoconservative (neo-con) imprints. Both Penguin Putnam and Crown have recently announced plans to launch lists specifically devoted to Rightwing material. Bookspan, which runs Book of the Month Club, has declared the formation of an as yet unnamed new club devoted to conservatism.

The Right wing, which controls the presidency and both houses of Congress, is experiencing a delicious rush of popularity, and publishing - an opportunist business if ever there were one - is responding to this powerful trend.

Neo-con publishing was, until recently, the preserve of such homespun imprints as Washington-based Regnery Publishing, a house born out of conviction in 1947 in a oneroom office in Chicago.

Agglomerated into Eagle Publishing, it now sits alongside Human Events (the National Conservative Weekly), Lifeline Press - devoted to "timely and scientifically accurate books for consumers concerned about their health" - and the Conservative Book Club, with a membership thought to be more than 75,000.

Regnery's book club, insiders speculate, will be at greatest risk from the corporate imprints. But Eagle's president Jeffrey Carneal is bullish. "The book club welcomes the existence of new imprints," he says. "Competition will be a challenge, and we are not resting on our laurels, but we have a 30-year head start."

New York, the centre of US publishing, is a bastion of liberal values led by an elite that has linked intellectualism to socialism since the early 20th century. But some commentators believe that New York may be out of step with the mood of the nation.

Conservative authors already appear on lists that are happy to play both sides against the middle.

Sean Hannity, author of Let Freedom Ring, is a bedfellow of Leftist Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore at HarperCollins. Crown is publisher of Ann Coulter - who wrote both Slander, a diatribe against liberals, and High Crimes and Misdemeanors, about the various Clinton scandals; it also published a bestselling attack on conservatives by David Brock, Blinded by the Right. "For us, the business is instinctual rather than a business assignment," declares Carneal, convinced that New York will be undone by its ambivalence. …

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