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Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost 4 Million Dollars Paperback – June 21, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Typo, a memoir about buying a typesetting company, is amusing, appalling, infuriating and wonderfully written." -- The Wall Street Journal

"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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (June 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933368659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933368658
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book certainly held my interest, and I enjoyed reading it. The blow-by-blow story of how an American company is crushed by industry forces (in this case, failing to adapt to low wage off-shoring competition) is compelling.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not about how to succeed or how to fail. It's about the nature of humanity and the nature of the Universe. Things change while they stay the same. A man stays the same as the world around him changes, and he is lost. A business stays the same as the industry changes, and it is lost. This book will make you question your assumptions and even your principles, not because they are inherently wrong but because they are not always right... they can be left behind in the wake of global trends. In this book you will see foolish heros and heroic fools, and nobody is ever perfect.

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.
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For a book that gives you the overall plot in the title, I found this book fascinating. I was riveted to the story, the people and to the journey itself. I have read few fictional books that I cared this much about. Could this really be a business memoir?

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.
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Format: Paperback
It's rare to find a true business tale that reads like a novel AND is insightful without being preachy. The story is riveting and gives insight to the nuts and bolts of taking over a company that most investors and even many managers are oblivious to. I don't see how a happy ending could have ever been possible for this story but David Silverman bares his soul with wit and grace.

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.
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Format: Paperback
What an original and soul baring book Mr. Silverman has written. Anyone in business for themselves or thinking of entrepreneurial dreams should read this book! Even if you don't envision yourself as an entrepreneur, this book will give you some insight into what your business owner is thinking and going through.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was outstanding.

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.
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