2008

AQ Book Trade and Publishing


Wörterbuch des Buches: mit Online-Aktualisierung [Dictionary of the Book: With Online Updates]. Helmut Hiller and Stephan Füssel. 7th rev. ed. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 2006. 379 p. 18 cm. ISBN 978 -3-465-03495-7: EUR 23.90 [08-1/2-050]

Reclams Sachlexikon des Buches [Reclam’s Encycopedia of the Book]. Ed. Ursula Rautenberg. 2d rev. ed. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2003. 590 p. ill. 16 cm. ISBN 3-15->010542-0: EUR 22.90 [08-1/2-051]

The fifth edition of the Wörterbuch des Buches appeared in 1991 and the “fundamentally revised” sixth edition came out in 2002 (see RREA 8:51). Then only four years later came the seventh edition, again completely revised. This edition takes into account the rapid changes occurring in the book trade—especially in the field of electronic publishing—and current developments in the digital world. In addition, publishing houses change, add new subject foci, or merge, and these updates have been included as well. Acquisition of the seventh edition includes password-protected on-line access (at http://www.klostermann.de/biblio/bib_3495.htm).

Reclams Sachlexikon des Buches first came out in 2003 (see RREA 9:42) and with its 590 pages dominated the market until the seventhth edition of the Klostermann title appeared in 2006. Despite their similarities, there are a number of conceptual differences between them. Helmut Hiller and Stephen Füssel (the latter is the director of the Mainz Institute for Publishing) are responsible for the majority of the entries in the Klostermann dictionary. The Reclam volume was compiled by a team of 12, which allows for a much larger number of contributions from different disciplines. True to its title—Sachlexikon [subject lexicon]—the Reclam work contains no entries for authors or publishers. The entries in the Klostermann volume are generally shorter than those in Reclam’s and feature longer key articles (e.g., on book stores, book illustration, electronic publishing, paper, and typography) with much more extensive bibliographies. Reclam offers longer, more sophisticated definitions for terms and fewer outdated entries, although Klostermann defines terms more clearly and practically. In the Klostermann dictionary some logical updates to sections on topics such as librarianship and copyright have not been made.

The online version of the Wörterbuch des Buches, as of late 2008, was not as up-to-date as it could have been and did not yet include all the entries from the print 7th edition. The online version is not very functional and contains few other bibliographies published since 2006. Access to some of the articles is also password protected. It is clear that the Wörterbuch des Buches and Reclams Sachlexikon both have their uses and complement each other. Both are of value for people being trained in the book trade, and they should also be in university and other major libraries. [hdw/sas]

Publishing, Books & Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Bibliography. Hans M. Zell. 3d ed. Lochcarron: Zell, 2008. l, 712 p. 27 cm. (Previous title: Publishing and Book Development in Sub-Saharan Africa). ISBN 978-0-9541029-5-1: £130, EUR 195 (includes the online version) [08-1/2-056]

This extensive volume is nearly double the size of its 1996 edition (Publishing and Book Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (see IFB 96-2/3-175) with an increase in number of entries from 2,267 to 2,517. Some of the entries in the previous edition were removed due to being obsolete, while 1,612 new ones were added. Hence, the 2008 edition should be treated as a fully new work. The organization of the volume was also changed in part, and a few new sections were added, for example, an introductory essay by Henry Chakava entitled “African Publishing: From Ile-Ife, Nigeria, to the Present” (p. xxxvii-l). The main part of the work begins with an overview of relevant organizations and associations. Five chapters follow: (1) serials and reference books for the entire subcontinent (p. 47-76); (2) general comparative and regional studies (p. 77-137); (3) country studies for 44 states (p. 138-337) divided uniformly into three sections: associations and book-related organizations, national bibliography, and books in print, book trade directories, books, articles, reports, and interviews; (4) studies by topic (p. 337-645), with 30 new sections added, for example: acquisition of African-published material, book fairs, the intra-African book trade, and women in African publishing; (5) information on book industry training and self-publishing (p. 646-669). Parts of this work are a little out-of-date, because some of the national bibliographies consulted for it have not been updated in quite a while.

Information regarding the online version of this work in a searchable database format is provided with the purchase of the print volume. This work is a must for libraries with strong collections on Africa, as well as those with collections on the subject of books and publishing. [sh/sas]

100 Jahre Rohwolt: eine illustrierte Chronik [100 Years of Rohwolt: An Illustrated Chronicle]. Hermann Gieselbusch et al. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2008. 383 p. ill. 26 cm. ISBN 978-3-498-02513-7: EUR 20 [08-1/2-061]

Despite the title, the occasion for this self-styled centennial volume is not the amassing of 100 continuous years as a publishing firm, but rather the passage of 100 years since Ernst Rohwolt began his publishing career. This career started with an amateur project (bankrolled by his father), grew with the financial support of business partner Kurt Wolff, and achieved renown by bringing such authors as Franz Kafka and Georg Heym to public notice (and later, American authors including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe in translation to German-speaking readers).

The 100 years include two long periods when the company was out of business: 19131919 (following a break with Wolff), and during the Nazi era. Rohwolt was never very good with money, and his business relations and friendships with Jewish authors put him after 1933 in a delicate situation, which he navigated rather clumsily for the most part. He joined the Nazi party in 1937, but the next year he was barred from working as a publisher. After a brief exile in Brazil he served in the Wehrmacht as a pilot and a distributor of anti-Semitic propaganda in Arab communities, but in 1943 he was discharged as “politically unreliable.” By 1946 he had managed to regain his license to publish in all four of Germany’s postwar occupation zones.

Needless to say, Rohwolt was quite the opportunist, even as his Nazi-era activities were motivated in large part by a desire to retain his relationships with his authors and employees. 100 Jahre Rohwolt mentions little of that history, focusing instead on pleasant anecdotes and milestone events. But the history it does cover is considerable and highly consequential, which makes the lack of such features as a name index and a bibliography of the firm’s products very frustrating. A bibliography of the firm’s translations into German would have been valuable as well. [rf/gw]

150 Jahre E. A. Seemann: die Geschichte des ältesten deutschen Kunstverlages 18582008; erscheint anläßlich des 150-jährigen Bestehens des E.-A.-Seemann-Verlages 2008 [150 Years E. A. Seemann: The History of the Oldest Art Publishing Firm in Germany, 1858-2008: Published for its 150th Anniversary]. Ute Willer and Susanne Müller-Wolff. Leipzig: Seemann, 2008. 72 p. ill. 21 cm. [08-1/2-062]

In 2008 the firm of E. A. Seemann marked its 150th anniversary as Germany’s oldest publisher of art reproductions and works on art history. It is probably best known for the periodical Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst [Journal of Visual Art] and the reference compendium Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart [General Encyclopedia of Visual Artists from Antiquity to the Present], known colloquially by the names of its editors as “Thieme-Becker-Vollmer.” But it also established an early and continuing reputation for vivid, high-quality art reproductions.

As with Rowolht, vicissitudes pertaining to wars and business relationships disrupted publishing activity more than once. E. A. Seemann’s son Elert, who became owner of the firm in 1923, was an early adherent to the Nazi movement and removed artists considered “degenerate” from the firm’s publications. In 1943 Allied bombing destroyed not only the firm’s Leipzig headquarters but also its photographic archive of some 150,000 images. After the war Irmgard Nussbaum-Seemann received ownership of the firm from the Soviet authorities, but she fled East Germany in 1952. Thereafter until the reunification of Germany the state-run Seemann firm grew and prospered as the leading art publisher in the communist East. After re-privatization, Seemann became part of the Dornier publishing group and, along with Edition Leipzig, Henschel-Verlag, and Koehler & Amelang, was then sold to former Dornier executive Bernd Kolf. Today Seemann is a small firm focusing on niche markets and specialty projects. [rf/gw]

Obelisk: A History of Jack Kahane and the Obelisk Press. Neil Pearson. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007. xiii, 494, [32] p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 978-1-84631-101-7: £25 [08-1/2-063]

The 2007 publication of the Olympia Press bibliography and the widespread interest it generated called to attention, as well, the work and legacy of the publisher’s father. Jack Kahane (1887-1939), father of Maurice Girodias, launched Obelisk Press in Paris in 1929 and, until his death ten years later, built an unusual catalog consisting of both erotic tales marketed to travelers and avant-garde novels by such authors as Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, James Joyce, and Anaïs Nin. This was possible in large part because many of the books were banned in English-speaking countries, and those that were not had been unable to find an audience until Kahane, an author himself, recognized their literary virtues.

The book comprises three sections, the first being a 75-page biography. The second section, running close to 200 pages, presents a detailed descriptive bibliography of the Obelisk Press in chronological order, covering 68 titles (the last five issued by Girodias after his father’s death). It also includes later editions (with references to the originals), brochures, and announcements, as well as a bibliography of Kahane’s writings covering ten books, ten short stories, and two translations from the French. The final section, comprising nearly half the book, offers biographies of the authors published by Obelisk, with special emphasis on author-publisher relations. It also includes a list of literature citations, a list of the published authors, and several color reproductions of jackets, covers, and title pages. [sh/gw]

Materiali per una bibliografia degli studi sulla storia del libro italiano [Materials for a Bibliography on the History of the Italian Book]. Marco Santoro, Samanta Segatori, and Valentina Sestini. Pisa; Roma: F. Serra, 2008. x, 84 p. 25 cm. (Biblioteca di Paratesto, 6). ISBN 9-788-86227-0731: EUR 32

An RREA Original Review by Sarah B. Sussman (Stanford University)

For a country with such a long and important printing history as Italy, a bibliography focusing on the key resources on the history of the book and printing is a welcome addition to the literature. Reflecting the country’s history as a group of relatively independent cities, kingdoms, and regions, much of the published output on printing history in Italy has been tied to its fractured political geography or limited to specific historical periods. This work attempts to address this issue by offering a dense, unannotated bibliography that tries to bring together the best of these works in a structured manner.

Beginning with a lengthy section on general studies, the book then proceeds chronologically, with chapters for each of the centuries from the 15th through the 19th, ending with a chapter on the 20th and 21st centuries. The general studies chapter begins with a list of major scholarly journals that include articles on the history of the book in Italy, followed by a historical overview of its predecessors—bibliographies and other studies that cover specific periods in the history of Italian publishing. That overview is followed by various classed lists of bibliographies, useful library catalogs, biographical studies, guides to special collections, and various studies and resources on specific genres and related aspects of the world of the book and its materiality, such as bibliophilic studies, bindings, music publishing, bookplates, reading practices, etc.

Subsequent century-based chapters each follow a similar organizational structure, beginning with an overview of key works on the period. However, due to the changing nature of printing practices, notable events, and important publishing houses, each chapter highlights different aspects of Italian book history. For example, the chapter on the 16th century includes a section on Manuzio and the Aldine Press; the one on the 18th century a section on Bodoni; and the one on the 19th century a selection of titles on labor conditions and workers’ associations. The final two chapters, covering the 19th century to the present, have useful bibliographies on the history of many publishers still in business today, such as Olschki, Einaudi, and Zanichelli. They also recognize the evolution of the relationships between author, editor, and publisher by providing citations on this aspect of the history of the book. In addition to these institutional and thematic topics, each chapter contains sections on the printing trades and publishing history in certain Italian cities and regions, depending on the time period. Works about both important publishing regions and smaller cities are included.

The dense nature of Materiali per una bibliografia degli studi sulla storia del libro italiano is both an asset and a liability. The curated lists of selected titles in Italian, French, and English offer valuable paths for the advanced researcher. The work includes both monographs and articles, while also noting important scholars in the field. Yet there is little to no annotation of the citations, leaving it up to the researcher to assess the value of each title for his or her own work. The organization within the chapters is somewhat difficult to understand, as well, although it is aided by having internal sections in bold type. These internal sections on regions appear to be organized partially alphabetically, partially geographically, and sometimes according to their importance. Because the highlights change over time, other more thematic, material, or commercial aspects of the history of the book may not occur in each chapter. Within each highlighted section, individual citations are listed chronologically, with older studies preceding more recent titles. Despite the complicated nature of the book’s structure, however, graduate students and advanced researchers working on all aspects of book history in Italy, including intellectual historians and literary scholars, should find this bibliography valuable in their research.


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Last update: April 2011 [LC]
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