Andre Schiffrin Was Right.

Andre Schiffrin Was Right.

The difference in perception between book readers and those relying on other media is dramatic. Books convey a subject with considerable depth and sophistication. A post like this one is just too brief to cover a subject adequately but I, of course, have to work within the limitation of the media I’m using. Too few companies control too many books. How sad. How dangerous.

James Pilant

Books must stop being a sideshow to mass media | Al Jazeera America

An influential editor at Pantheon Books and later a founder of the New Press, Andre Schiffrin was an outspoken critic of the corporatization of publishing, which he saw as an attack on freedom of speech. With his death on Dec. 1 at 78, we lost one of the great publishing figures of the 20th century.

But his arguments still live — and they must. The merger between Penguin and Random House this year has created a giant company that will control 25 percent of the global book trade. The big five U.S. publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster — control roughly two-thirds of the U.S. consumer book publishing market. This narrowing of the industry to a few megapublishers threatens to marginalize novel ideas and place the world of books under corporate control.

In setting up the New Press and its public-interest mandate — to publish underrepresented voices and simultaneously reach out to an audience “intellectually red-lined” by commercial publishers — Schiffrin became a trailblazer for not-for-profit publishing.

Schiffrin also argued that books are a crucial (according to him, “just about the only”) venue for nonmainstream expression in the face of an increasingly corporate-owned press. He was the first, for example, to translate and publish Mich

via Books must stop being a sideshow to mass media | Al Jazeera America.