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Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost 4 Million Dollars Paperback – June 21, 2007
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Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
"His beautifully written memoir avoids no details about the realities of managing people... [and] brings the `global' issue of globalization to an all-too-human level." -- Tom Ehrenfeld former editor at Harvard Business Review and Inc. Magazine
"It is absolutely brilliant. Everyone in the publishing business should read it and most people in any sort of business should too." -- Richard Charkin, CEO Macmillan UK
"This is what we would try to teach our MBA students-but we lack Mr. Silverman's sense of humor and timing." -- Professor Robert Bloomfield, Cornell University Johnson School of Management's Director of Graduate Studies
"What really makes this book is the often entertaining picture it paints of the tribulations of trying to run a business. ... It is no wonder that at least one business school is making it mandatory reading for anyone considering starting their own business." -- The Independent
Top Customer Reviews
And yet, after finishing the book, the more I reflected on it, the less I liked it, and the less comfortable I felt with the author. One the plus side, he comes across as being forthright, and I give him props for baring his soul about how his company failed under his watch. Not many people would do that.
At the same time, Silverman did not seem to have much respect or empathy for his employees. He goes out of his way to make derogatory comments about their appearance or habits. The whole state of Iowa is portrayed as a grotesque backwater ... there are gratuitous digs taken against other locations ... indeed, if I recall correctly, no place away from the East Coast gets his respect. And that actually doesn't bother me much, except, that (i) I'm not sure that Silverman ever reconciles his utter failure to reach his employees with his lack of appreciation for them, and (ii) who in their right mind would buy a company in small-town Iowa and expect it to be driven by hard-charging cutting-edge types? That's not a knock on Iowa; the hard truth is that in small towns, opportunities are limited, so many ambitious, intelligent people leave, setting up a negative cycle where it's hard to start a new business because the labor pool isn't right.
Beyond that, there's a little too much of a victim mentality in the book, as if the company would have been fine if Fortuna hadn't thrown all these cataclysms into its way.Read more ›
And then when you get to the end, and you think you've got this hard, miserable world figured out, you will hear a story of redemption, a whispered hint of what it could mean to believe in something that never changes.
It is indeed. It is a business memoir like no other. It's funny, even when the chips are down it still manages to be funny. The only thing I find more impressive than the humor and style with which the book was written is the unforgiving honesty about what is occurring. It is a roller coaster of emotion as you hope (like the author did) for success.
After reading Typo, I now feel like have experienced running my own company. Even ending in failure, this book inspires me even more to try my own hand at it.
If you're thinking of starting or buying a company or partnering with or lending money to someone who is, you should read this book.
Are people always who they seem to be? How hard-nosed can customers be? How difficult will the workload be when I'm on my own? How can I compete with outsourcing? Can I change a culture mindset? All these questions and many more are discussed in a hilarious, entertaining and sometimes saddening way. Life isn't always easy on your own!
Congratulations to David Silverman on being willing to risk everything to pursue the American Dream and (no spoiler, the title gives it away) even though it ended in failure for the company I think anyone who reads this book will be richer because of his experiences. My guess is David will be back doing something on his own at some point in the near future. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes Typo and turns it into a cottage industry much like Covey has done with Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Most "business books" focus on high finance, venture capital, or big company leadership or experiences. Yet most of the economy is small and medium businesses such as the one David describes. A New York jew attempting to convince Iowan grandmothers to revolutionize their business or be outsourced is laughable in one sense, but the core of American business innovation in the other.
His descriptions of what it is like to fire grandmothers, to attempt to empower people who have no interest in stepping up, and his senior partner and mentor's downward personal spiral get to the heart of business. These are the enormous challenges in the heart of the economy that has never seen an MBA and yet is vital to towns like Clarinda.
Even though he invested and lost his life savings, he made the right decision. He was just overwhelmed by strategic forces that swamped the industry.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is mostly self-pitying, whiny and episodic. Silverman attempts to provide a national economic context for his business failure but just ends up telling his own rather... Read morePublished on November 17, 2013 by Jonathan Groner
Can you imagine trying to write an engaging novel about the failure of a U.S. typesetting company? David Silverman didn't need to; he simply shared with us a slice of his own life,... Read morePublished on March 25, 2013 by Ian Greenham
If you enjoy exercises in frustration, TYPO is the perfect book for you! I'm not sure who is more infuriating to follow, the employees who don't get it or the big boss who... Read morePublished on April 28, 2011 by Lean Six Sigma Goddess
My husband brought this book home and I halfheartedly began reading it, then ended up confiscating it and devouring it in a few days. Read morePublished on June 26, 2010 by Marlene
To more or less borrow a quote from Patton, "Silverman... you magnificent bastard, I read your book"... and greatly enjoyed it although I must admit that the ending saddened me. Read morePublished on April 24, 2009 by RAW
I found myself wanting to reach into some of the scenes the author painted and explain to the characters why they needed to listen. Could they not see what was coming? Read morePublished on March 5, 2009 by Daniel Mclinden
David Silverman's "Typo" will join my small shelf of business books. It is small not because I've read so few, but because I find so few worth keeping. Read morePublished on July 27, 2008 by Chet Ensign
Only the first word of the title is accurate --- much of this book is a mistake, but Clarinda was not ``the last American typesetter'' (there are a number still in business), and a... Read morePublished on June 10, 2008 by William F. Adams
a sad tale of the globalization scam
too much personal information, otherwise scary insights to America's demise