Books by Jacob Steinberg

Released: April 15, 1993

Bookish story of Twayne Publishers, Inc., and how the scholarly house stayed alive largely through sales to libraries and academics. Steinberg, Twayne's founder, sticks to business here: We get precious little of the living man but much about his publishing philosophy and the nobler tricks of the trade. The author shunned big names, trembled at the idea of a bestseller that might turn into a very expensive dinosaur laying stone-dead books being returned to him by booksellers. Highlights include the births of dozens of series tailored to narrow markets: series about American and British authors and those of other ethnic groups and nationalities; series in criticism; series in Judaica (over 100 titles)—you name it and Twayne had a series. Small print-runs with guaranteed markets kept the house (founded in the mid-50's) afloat, and Steinberg had a special talent for handling remainders. In fact, when Twayne was sold at last to G.K. Hall & Co., a subsidiary of ITT, Steinberg was kept on, only to become the ``remainder maven'' for disposing of overstock for a number of ITT publishing companies. ``I think I got rid of more than a million books,'' he says. His liveliest moments come on trips to Moscow for the Moscow Book Fair—where he set up a display of outlawed Judaica that brought tears to the eyes of visiting Jews—and to China, a special interest of his because Twayne was founded specifically to publish the Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber (which the house then failed to bring out during its first ten years). Colorless—and certain not to be a bestseller. Read full book review >