Page 34 - 9781935340843_txt.indd

This is a SEO version of 9781935340843_txt.indd. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

14

A new perspective on some old family publishing history

May 10, 2009 at 8:47 am

After Making Information Pay on Thursday, I had lunch with Michael Cader. One of our topics was some statistical research he is doing on the question “how many orphans”? This is his research to reveal, but I will only tell you “not nearly as many as I thought.”

Part of what I learned from Michael is that the annual output of new titles as measured by Bowker from the 1920s until the 1970s was about ten thousand titles per year. It is several hundred thousand now. This put a piece of Shatkin family publishing history into an entirely new perspective for me.

My father, Leonard Shatkin, had created the Dolphin Books im-print at Doubleday in the late 1950s. Jason Epstein had goten Double-day into the “quality paperback” business early when he founded Anchor Books in about 1953. Len was “Director of Research” (that’s another story) at that time, with a big focus on strengthening the sales organization. He did so largely through a 1950s version of “automa-tion” (which required a large roomful of worker bees at Doubleday’s plant in Garden City): a vendor-managed inventory plan that wrote the orders for the stores based on physical inventory counts the Doubleday reps sent from the accounts ( instead of orders!)

In 1957 or 1958, they put 800 stores on the Doubleday Merchandis-ing Plan. Backlist sales quadrupled. Cost of sales quartered (they had added a lot of sales reps, so travel expenses were cut sharply.) They wanted more books !

But the Doubleday editorial department said, “there really aren’t any more books. We see all the books that are made available; we buy the ones that are worth publishing.” So management created a new imprint, called Dolphin Books, and it reported to Len.

Tom McCormack, later the dynamic CEO that built St. Martin’s from a relatively insignifcant player importing Macmillan UK titles to an industry powerhouse, was a young editor there at that time. Dad had Tom start making lists of all the public domain books and

Page 34 - 9781935340843_txt.indd

This is a SEO version of 9781935340843_txt.indd. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »