AQ -- Book Trade and Publishing

Dictionnaire des femmes libraires en France: 1470-1870 [Dictionary of Women Booksellers in France, 1470-1870]. Roméo Arbour. Genève: Droz, 2003. 750 p. 24 cm. (École Pratique des Hautes Études, IVe Section, Sciences Historiques et Philologiques, 6; Histoire et Civilisation du Livre, 26). ISBN 2-600-00827-6: SFr 120 [04-1-047]

Women’s activities in the book trade were never considered a topic of interest in France or elsewhere, even though listings of publishers and printers did include women. Only during the last two decades has the subject gained recognition. This extensive biographical dictionary contains 6,424 short articles. Years covered are bracketed by the introduction of printing in France in 1470 and the beginning of freedom of trade in 1870. This period of four centuries is characterized by two distinct periods. During the Ancien Régime women were excluded from guilds and only as widows were allowed to continue their husbands’ businesses. This changed in 1791 (during the French Revolution), when guilds were abolished. But already in 1810 Napoleon restricted this freedom of trade by introducing concessionary restrictions, which were finally discontinued in 1870.

The entries in the volume contain names, usually the husband’s, followed by the woman’s maiden name; place of business with addresses; type of enterprise; beginning and ending dates of the business activity, and if possible, the age of the entrepreneur; membership in trade associations; and listings of significant works published, as well as source information. The appendices contain a list of names organized by century, a detailed bibliography of sources, and a name index. [sh/hsb]

Das Malerbuch des 20. Jahrhunderts: die Künstlerbuchsammlung der Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel [Art Books in the 20th Century: The Art Books Collection of the Herzog-August Library in Wolfenbüttel]. Ed. Werner Arnold. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2004. 454 p. ill. 28 cm. (Wolfenbütteler Schriften zur Geschichte des Buchwesens, 37). ISBN 3-447-05051-9: EUR 79 [04-1-049]

This catalog of the art book collection of the famous Herzog-August Library in Wolfenbüttel covers the period 1800-2003. It describes 3,153 books to which artists made a significant contribution or which are artistically noteworthy because of their illustrations or bindings. There is a modest section of art reproductions and a name index. Unfortunate are the lack of additional indexes, the lack of information about the size of individual print runs, and numerous inconsistencies in the bibliographic descriptions. [ab/ldl]

Geschichte der Buchkultur [History of Book Culture]. Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt. 24 cm. [04-2-421]

Vol. 3. Frühmittelalter [Early Middle Ages]. Otto Mazal. 2 parts. 2003. 327, 325 p. ill. ISBN 3-201-01735-3: EUR 99

The author of this history of the book culture of early medieval Europe is the former director of the Manuscript Division of the National Library of Austria. The work is part of a projected nine-volume history, whose first volume (on classical antiquity) was also written by Mazal.

In 12 chapters, the book treats the history of western European books and libraries from the 5th to the 11th centuries, covering topics that provide a broad historical context, such as religious orders, literature, and science. The themes of this book are, in other words, not merely of interest to specialists.

There are numerous shortcomings: no introduction (thus no overview), a lot of detail with no summarizing, no notes or references, an inadequate bibliography, a deficient index, too many illustrations that are not keyed to the text. This book is likely to confuse and exhaust the novice reader, and it will not have enough to satisfy the expert.

The most valuable chapter is the one on book illumination. At 170 pages it is also the longest. The book also has 50 black-and-white and 58 full-page color plates of high quality that are keyed to the relevant piece of text.

The conception behind this book is a good one, but its realization leaves something to be desired. The lack of a useful bibliographic apparatus, for which Jakobi-Mirwald’s Das Mittelalterliche Buch (Stuttgart, 2004) provides a useful supplement and corrective, is especially problematic. [ch/sl]

Abriss der lateinischen Paläographie [Outline of Latin Paleography]. Hans Foerster and Thomas Frenz. 3d rev. and expanded ed. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 2004. vi, 363 p. facsims. 25 cm. (Bibliothek des Buchwesens, 15). ISBN 3-7772-0410-2: EUR 98 [04-2-422]

At the request of the publisher, Thomas Frenz has revised and expanded the Abriss he and Hans Foerster issued in 1963. The second edition was behind the times, and unfortunately so is this one. Frenz’s revision both fails to correct many errors of the second edition and adds new ones. In a new chapter, “Die Schriften der Neuzeit” [Documents of the Modern Period], covering the 16th to 20th centuries, only a single illustration is included, thus forcing the reader to imagine what the various typographic developments looked like. New to this edition are a literary index and an inflated cross-reference index. The latter contains many needless and ineffective references, but the worst thing is the dispersal of type designations, which would have had more value had they been kept together. This edition, like its predecessor, fails to live up to its billing as a standard work in the field. [hsp/rlk]

Der Verleger Johann Friedrich Cotta—chronologische Verlagsbibliographie 17871832: aus den Quellen bearbeitet [The Publisher Johann Friedrich Cotta: A Chronological Bibliography of his Publishing House, 1787-1832, Based on Documentary Sources]. Bernhard Fischer. 3 vols. Marbach am Neckar: Deutsche Schillergesellschaft; München: In Verbindung mit K.G. Saur. 2003. 1,003, 998, 312 p. ill. 21 cm. (Verzeichnisse, Berichte, Informationen. Deutsches Literaturarchiv, 30). ISBN 3-598-11632-2 (set): EUR 168 (EUR 98 for members of the Deutsche Schiller-Gesellschaft) [041-051]

The work of Johann Friedrich Cotta (known as “the Napoleon of publishers” and “the most successful publisher in the Age of Goethe,” i.e., Germany’s literary Golden Age) has been documented in other bibliographies, but, given the compiler’s unparalleled access to the publisher’s archives, never as satisfactorily as here. Coverage is limited to publications from 1787 to 1832, the years in which the younger Cotta built up his father‘s debt-ridden firm into a publishing empire. Included is a history of the firm during those years, with a bibliography of other sources on its history. Fischer lists 2,246 Cotta titles in all, annotating them extensively (giving, for example, collation and a detailed printing history, including editions, kinds of paper used, numbers of copies printed, contracts, and prices, both retail and wholesale). The basic sequence is chronological. A wonderfully useful feature is the inclusion of references to contemporary reviews, of which there are literally thousands, as well as tables of contents to 32 journals published or distributed by Cotta. The several indexes that compose the third volume include those by title, author, artist, compositor, printers, and dedicatee. The only serious deficiency of this work is the absence of a subject index, which would demonstrate that Cotta was not “merely” the publisher of Germany’s classical authors but indeed a “universal publisher.” [sh/sl]

Der jüdische Verlag, 1902-1938: zwischen Aufbruch, Blüte und Vernichtung [The Jewish Publishing House, 1902-1938: Between Foundation, Fruition, and Eradication]. Anatol Schenker. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2003. vii, 614 p. ill. 23 cm. (Conditio Judaica, 41). ISBN 3-484-65141-5: EUR 120 [04-1-054]

This dissertation (Basel, 2000) is the first comprehensive study of the Jüdischer Verlag, which, along with Schocken and Philo, constituted the three most important German Jewish publishers. Founded by Martin Buber and others, the Jüdischer Verlag came to an end in 1938 with the Nazi prohibition of Jewish publishers. The concluding illustrated bibliography of 250 titles published between 1902 and 1938, while indicating holdings in the author’s own collection and in Jerusalem institutions, unfortunately lacks identification of German holding libraries. Otherwise, this is a fine contribution, whose steep price may, however, prove a deterrent to potential purchasers. [ab/rlk]

… da werde ich lieber Seifensieder: Erich Lichtenstein im Spiegel seiner verlegerischen und publizistischen Arbeit [… I’d Rather be a Soap-Boiler: Erich Lichtenstein’s Publishing and Essayistic Work], with a reprinted supplement: Blätter der Jüdischen Buch-Vereinigung 1934-1936 [The Magazine of the Jewish Book Association, 1934-1936]. Ed. Hans-Udo Wittkowski. 2 vols. Berlin: Blanke, 2000. 235 p. ill. 24 cm; 76 p. ill. 30 cm. ISBN 3-934577-00-8: EUR 90; ISBN 3-934577-01-6 (special ed.): EUR 130 (Verlag Bernhard Blanke, Kurfürstenstr. 13, D-10785 Berlin, email: info@blanke-berlin.de) [04-1-056]

[Ed. note: the publisher, in a personal e-mail message to the abstractor, explained that the title comes from a statement that Lichtenstein himself made about his dedication to his profession: ”I would rather be a soap-boiler (a malodorous, unpleasant job) than produce bad books.”]

These two very nicely presented volumes from the Berlin antiquarian bookdealer and publisher Bernhard Blanke shed light on the Jewish Book Association, founded in 1934 and dissolved in 1938, and the work of the association’s leader, Erich Lichtenstein (1888-1967), who also had a publishing house under his own name from 1920-35 in Thuringia. Ironically, there were more ”Jewish” publishers and bookstores in Germany between 1933 and the end of 1938 than ever before; the association and its activities, including 19 titles by significant authors, might not have existed without the ghettoization of German Jews.

Lichtenstein’s publishing house produced around 90 titles, including carefully edited classics and contemporary fiction and essays. A noteworthy exception to the regular program was a clear statement in 1931 against National Socialism, then newly founded in Thuringia.

The main volume contains a 40-page overview of Lichtenstein’s biography and publishing work, his writings on literary history and the Association (including three that are reprinted in volume 2), and the first publication of his correspondence with his longtime friend, author Alexander von Bernus. The supplementary volume is a reprint of the Jewish Book Association’s magazine. The appendixes include around 90 brief biographies of relevant individuals, as well as four bibliographies: (1) works issued by the Erich Lichtenstein publishing house, 1920-1935; (2) those among them that Lichtenstein re-issued from other publishers; (3) Lichtenstein’s own works; and (4) publications by the Jewish Book Association.

Some of the biographies (e.g., of Jakob Wassermann) are far too brief and not always well researched. The works listed in the bibliographies were apparently personally examined, but it is unclear on which private or public collections the author has relied. An unusual feature is the inclusion of advertising brochures among the publisher’s bibliographies. [ab/mm]

Die traun sich was: 50 Jahre Eulenspiegel-Verlag; Geschichte, Geschichten, Gesamtverzeichnis [They Have a Lot of Nerve: 50 Years of the Eulenspiegel Publishing House; History, Stories, Comprehensive Catalog]. Berlin: Eulenspiegel-Verlag, 2004. 255 p. ill. 20 cm. ISBN 3-359-01480-4: EUR 12.90 [04-2-423]

The Eulenspiegel-Verlag was somewhat like the government-approved publisher of satire in the German Democratic Republic. It originated in East Berlin with the satirical magazine Frischer Wind in 1946, which changed its title to Eulenspiegel, and became a publishing house in 1954. The small business was successful in publishing humor, satire, and leisure reading, and since the reunification has gained increasing acceptance in former West Germany. This publication largely ignores the history of the firm during the forties and fifties, and the anecdotes from those years are full of name-dropping and tales that would be of interest and amusing only to insiders who could make some personal connection to them. The concluding catalog section is poorly arranged and difficult to use. One hopes that the publisher will in the future produce a solid history of the publishing house with a proper bibliography. [rf/mjc]

Verlagschronik: Alfred-Kröner- Verlag 1904-2004 [Publisher’s Chronicle: Alfred Kröner Publishing House, 1904-2004] . Stuttgart: Kröner, 2004. 55 p. 21 cm. ISBN 3-520-70501-X: gratis [04-2-424]

This publisher’s chronicle marks the centennial of a family-owned business. A similar booklet was published for its 75th anniversary: Alfred Kröner Verlag: 1904-1979 (Stuttgart, 1979). A brief history of the firm is followed by a complete catalog of publications, which unfortunately lists only the first edition of a title and omits the edition information for titles that were acquired from other publishing houses. Title entries are so abbreviated that they sometimes exclude important information about the contents. In contrast, the firm’s web site www.kroener-verlag.de presents a full listing of its offerings. Interesting details of the growth of the business and the family’s involvement are omitted. For the centennial of such a successful publisher, one would definitely have expected more. [rf/mjc]

Peter Suhrkamp: zur Biographie eines Verlegers in Daten, Dokumenten und Bildern [Peter Suhrkamp: Biography of a Publisher in Dates, Documents, and Images]. Ed. Siegfried Unseld. Reprint of the rev., expanded, and partially updated 1991 jubilee ed. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2004. 297 p. ill. 18 cm. (Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch, 3597). ISBN 3-518-45597-4: EUR 11 [04-2-425]

In 1975, a paperback entitled Peter Suhrkamp: zur Biographie eines Verlegers… was published as number 260 in the Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch series and was listed as the “first edition.” In 1991 a “revised, expanded, in part newly illustrated,” hardcover edition appeared in honor of the 100th birthday of the famous publisher and was designated as the “first edition of this [revised] edition.” In the 1991 edition, Unseld’s foreword and the chronological biography were not changed. Only Suhrkamp’s bibliography and the personal-name index were expanded, and some photographs were supplemented or transposed. The number of supporting documents became a little more extensive because of these other changes. An extract from Unseld’s original foreword had also been reprinted under the heading, “Wer war Peter Suhrkamp?” [Who was Peter Suhrkamp], first in a small brochure for the 25th anniversary of the publisher and slightly revised in the volume for the 50th.

Now a third “first edition” has been published, with a new volume number in the Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch series. In reality this edition is identical in pagination to, but physically smaller than, the 1991 edition. A mere 18 lines of new text have been added: brief biographies of Peter Suhrkamp and the two publishers who succeeded him (also deceased). The only other changes are in the title page, the cover, the publisher advertisements, and—perhaps the only praiseworthy change—the price.

Peter Suhrkamp began his publishing career with the S. Fischer Verlag before and during World War II (and was instrumental in saving the business for its Jewish owners). Following the War, Suhrkamp parted ways with Fischer and founded his own publishing company in 1950, cultivating relationships with prominent established authors such as Hermann Hesse and Bertolt Brecht and promoting post-war writers such as Max Frisch and Martin Walser. It would be hard to begrudge the currently embattled company for reissuing this particular title from its gigantic backlist, but one could rightly question why they did not make it clear that the biographical material remains essentially unchanged from its first publication in 1975. [rf/jmw]

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Last update: July 15, 2007 [TB]
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