By James L. W. West III
This booklet examines literary authorship within the 20th century and covers such issues as publishing, publication distribution, the alternate editor, the literary agent, the journal marketplace, subsidiary rights, and the blockbuster mentality.
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Extra resources for American Authors and the Literary Marketplace Since 1900
The Net Book Agreement became the "Magna Carta" of the book trade in Great Britain during the twentieth century making it much simpler for houses there to maintain a conservative, backlist-oriented stvle of publishing. The major trade publishers in America attempted to em~ilatethe Brit~ s hby announcing In March 1901 their o\vn Net Book Agreement, J measure v~rtuall)~ d e ~ l t ~to c athe l one adopted by the B r ~ t ~ sMacv's h department store in New York, however, challenged the agreement in 1902 by suing- the hncrican Publishers Association and the America~lBooksellers Association jointly for restraint of trade and for monopolistic and conspimtorial practices.
J. 28 / American Authors and the Literary Marketplace ecluatiori perfectly: "Publishing is not ordinary trade," he wrote. "It is gambling. The publisher bets tlie cost of manufacturing, advertising and circulating a book, plus the owrhead of his establishment, against every book he publishes exactly as a turf bookmaker bets against every horse in the race. The author, wi;h his one book, is an onmer baclu~ighis favorite at the best odds he can get from tlie competi~igpublishers. i several other books.
But these midwestern publishers, kvith the esception of nvo or three houses in Chicago, kvere conservative anci never attempted much in the \tray of original literary publishing. - The South did not support strong book-publishing houses; its antebellunl economy was prcdominantly agrarian, its population largcl!. rural, and its transportation routes poorlv developed and maintained. en the rudiments of a distribution system. Books p~lblishedin North Carolina, for example, seldom reached readers even in the adjacent states of Virginia and South Carolina.