American Authors and the Literary Marketplace Since 1900 by James L. W. West III

By James L. W. West III

This booklet examines literary authorship within the 20th century and covers such themes as publishing, publication distribution, the alternate editor, the literary agent, the journal marketplace, subsidiary rights, and the blockbuster mentality.

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Almost the only time such reductio~lsworked was during World War 11, when paper shortages forced publishers to reduce their output. S. publishers. Virtually evervthing they produced sold well, and they wcathered the paper restrictions easily. A related problem has been price maintenance. The most bitter fights in American publishing history have comc over price-cutting and lossleadering-first during the 1840s with piratical paperback publishers, later in the 1890s with J. W. Lovell's "book trust" of cheap reprinters, and again in the early 1900s benveen Macy's department store and established New York publishers.

Niarkets much as British publishers treated their colonial market-as a secondary area i ~ which i one had to be careful not to lose one's shirt. It must be said that before about 1850, advanced printing technolop was not widelv enough available t o allo~veastern publishers to manuf~cture copies cheaply e~iouglior i11 suficie~itquantity to g o after nationwide markets.

Thomas C. icatz L$: A Histoyy ( N c a York: ~McGra\\,-Hill, 1972), pp. 61--2, 152-53. Distribution 141 pecially true in publishing. Cheap paperback (or "~ello\vback")firms salv that there were new readers to be serviced in the Midwest and South and i ~ the i Northeast as well. Twice (in tlie 1840s and again in tlie 1880s and 1890s) they seized the main chance and attempted to reach these buyers through wildcat paperback publishi~ig-pirated titles, cheap materials, long press runs, lo\v prices, and nontraditional outlets.

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