Hungry Hollow Book Tank: A Lexiconigraphic Omnibus Digitalis

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TAKEOVER! - Big Money Moves into the Small Press World

In a civilization run by wealth and dominated by monopolies, should one small section of culture remain independent; free from the influence of a growing plutocracy?

The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) was founded in 1967 as the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, with a mission to advocate for independent publishing endeavors. As recently as 2004 CLMP's Board of Directors consisted chiefly of actual representatives from the small press world, including the editor of an obscure poetry journal in California; the publisher of Graywolf Press; a buyer from City Lights Books; and a poet from Queens College in New York.

Already, though, the board showed signs of a change in direction in the person of Constance B. Sayre, a former VP at Simon & Schuster and current President of Market Partners International. MPI is "consultant to the ten largest U.S. trade book publishers and three of the largest U.S. magazine publishing companies."

Was this someone to represent the small press?

Two years later the CLMP board is dominated by VIPs from the most monied segments of America. A few of the current board members:

JAMES L. BILDNER: Owner of New Horizons Partners, a venture capital firm. Bildner, trustee of the Kresge Foundation, is former chairman of a chain of food stores.

ELLIS B. LEVINE: Corporate lawyer for Cowan, DaBaets, Abrahams and Sheppard, Levine is described as a "lawyer for the book publishing industry." he's former VP and board member of the publishing giant Random House.

SUZANNE DE BACA: President of Private Capital Solutions, a financial and investment services firm "that specializes in helping high net worth individuals plan for and manage financial change."

JULIE SCHAPER: President of Consortium Book Sales, a book distributor which was bought in 2001 by investment banker Don Linn, then sold to Perseus Books Group in July 2006. Perseus, which comprises seven imprints, is a portfolio company of Perseus LLC, "a merchant bank and private equity fund management company." "Perseus manages six investment funds with capital commitments totaling $1.3 billion. . . ."

JENNIFER BLUESTEIN: VP at Mirram Global, a big bucks political consulting firm in New York City which received more than $900,000 to manage Fernando Ferrer's recent mayoral campaign. Mirram's questionable behavior was addressed by Michael Slackman in the March 10, 2005 New York Times.

GERALD HOWARD: Executive Editor at Doubleday Books, a division of Random House.

NICOLE DEWEY: Assistant Director of Publicity at Doubelday Books.

The board also includes Sara Nelson, Editor-in-Chief at Publishers Weekly, a magazine for insiders in the conglomerate publishing industry, and Ira Silverberg, a major figure at Donadio & Olson literary agents, whose job is to serve said industry.

Compared to this array of heavyweight names, remaining boards members David Lynn of Kenyon Review; Johnny Temple of New York-based Akashic Books, and "freelance editor" Elizabeth Bogner appear to be tokens. (Ms. Bogner is in fact married to Jesse Sheidlower, principal North American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, hardly a home of small press outsiders. Elizabeth's main qualification for board membership seems to be that she's good at throwing Manhattan parties attended by literary Insiders. Maybe she's produced some zeens I don't know about.)

My conclusion about this list: The foxes are running the henhouse!

TO READ MORE, a full report, including what this takeover means, and why it occurred, click on the "ULA's Monday Report" at Literary Revolution

For background and updates go to "Attacking the Demi-Puppets" at King Wenclas


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