Books that matter for people who care

A few weeks ago my old boss was featured in the Boston Globe, talking, as he usually does, about the dire state of publishing and what it’s like to publish obscure yet Nobel Prize-winning authors.

I had lunch with David a few months ago, and he waved off my congratulations and mostly talked about the Robert Downey Jr movie The Judge, which was primarily filmed at his house outside Boston. He and his family had their meals catered by the movie’s craft services for weeks, which thrilled his frugal heart. They made his house look pretty good, too, which also tickled him.

As I read the Globe article, I made all kinds of mental annotations:

Boston publisher David Godine likes to say he specializes in books nobody buys” and that it was my job to try to sell to then-behemoths like Barnes & Noble and Borders. That didn’t go so well.

He is renowned for producing — if not always selling — eclectic and fastidiously assembled and designed books.” Ouch.

What distinguishes Godine, 70, from the CEOs of other publishing companies is his obsessive attention to detail — editing manuscripts, choosing binding cloth, and even driving his 2008 Prius around New England to pitch booksellers on his latest titles.” Or having his sales manager drive his old Subaru up and down the eastern seaboard with a dirty outboard motor in the back until her clothes smelled like diesel.

Last month, Godine, whose tufts of black hair make him look like the Tootsie Pop owl, spent a day slapping “Nobel Prize winner” stickers on the Modiano books.” HAHAHA

Etc. Anyway, I’m very luck to have learned about publishing from David, and I’m glad he’s having a good year. Especially since he keeps threatening to make me take over the company.

The entire article is worth a read, as is this slightly older New Yorker piece, which features an interview with David as well.

As David would say, You’re a peach.

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