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Provocative and amusing
on July 17, 2007
This sweet gem of a book sets an ambitious goal of elucidating the means by which editors and publishing houses make the invisible decisions that put books in the hands of the reading public. As the title implies, this is a world on the precipice of several calamities: the growth of multimedia corporations that have plundered small publishing houses, as well as ensured the passing of independent book stores. Even more chilling are the emergent technologies that threaten the very idea of what we have come to think of as a book.If a book is not printed paper between two covers, what will it be, and who will write it and produce it? Will writers still be important to fostering provocative thought, or will other technologies eclipse them?
As a reader I want to read imaginative work of refinement and craft, not simply the dross that feeds the entertainment industry of movie, videogame, and retail spin offs that the megalith corporations want to develop. As diversity in the field shrinks to a few major players who control all aspects of our media, will society be well served? The Last Days of Publishing asks us to reflect on all these troubling notions and paints a rather grim landscape of the future terrain.
The tone of this book is sharp, witty and amusing. Rick Koppes, a veteran editor who knows his way around the New York Publishing scene, uses his instincts to stay one step ahead of the opportunistic underlings, and ambitious sharks circling his desk. He offers a tantalizing portrait of what great purpose there can and should be in the role of the editor.
Our beleaguered hero has brought his art to such a high luster, that alas, when it comes to love, he is more editor than scribe. He is dazzled and bemused by the women in his life, but clearly, not in charge of the plot.He is so appreciative of their splendor, so earnest about wanting to be supportive and nurturing to them, he is nearly emasculated."If I were a book", his ex laments, "You would have loved me!" When he finally picks up his pen and risks the act of creation, he finally gains an active part in his own narrative.
Who knows books better than an editor who has been in the trenches for years? He cannot change an entire industry, but can still be a voice of outrage, dissent and courage. This is a cautionary tale of an extremely likable charcter, from an extremely likable writer. The insider oeuvre is sometimes too smooth and glib for its own good; like an inside joke that can't be appreciated by all. But overall, the intelligence and smartness of the writing is sparkling and fresh enough to catch and hold even the most incognizant outsider.