An insider's earnest report on how Xerox won, lost, and regained control of the multibillion-dollar global market it launched in plain-paper copiers. In collaboration with business-consultant Nadler, Kearns (Xerox's CEO from 1982 to 1990) presents the Xerox turnabout as a paradigm of the war between US industry and its offshore rivals, most notably the Japanese. He begins, however, with an engaging account of xerography's origins and wonder years. From a near standing start in 1959, when it introduced the 914 office copier, Xerox became an overnight success story. While annual revenues topped $1 billion by 1968, prosperity brought complacency. During the late 1970's, the company lost ground to the Japanese, and, by 1982, when Kearns took command, Xerox's piece of the worldwide action in copiers had been halved, to just over 40%, and the company was in real danger of floundering. With support from a small circle of aides (so-called ``prophets in the dark''), Kearns mounted a remarkable comeback campaign built on a thoroughgoing commitment to quality—and the Series 10 machines that enabled Xerox to regain market share. The collateral benefits of the makeover were impressive by any standard. By the late 1980's, the company had slashed assembly costs by almost 50% while doubling output and improving performance by substantive margins. Kearns attributes Xerox's new-found capacity to beat Asian adversaries at their own game to many factors, including innovative production techniques, greater receptivity to new ideas, and a multinational approach to manufacturing as well as marketing. Whether Xerox's recovery is unique or may serve as a model for others, though, is difficult to determine from the authors' commentaries, which are longer on broad perspectives than practical advisories. Valuable, if solemn, first-person insights on the price of renewal from a professional executive who knows the territory. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos—not seen.)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)