... Making Books. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)
Authentic publishing is a lot like art collecting: You have to have a talent for it, and that talent shows in the outcome. Compare what you see in a great private collection - the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, N.Y.; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Phillips Collection in Washington - to what is usually put together by curators. The latter are object lessons in conventional wisdom. The curators think what other curators think and know the curators other curators know. The former reflect an intensely personal encounter with the art, which is something quite different from academic expertise. (As Duncan Phillips put it: "I do not venture to anticipate posterity and the ultimate evaluations of history. The collector can only be true to himself. My choices have been, frankly, personal. ") Alfred Knopf, Robert Giroux, James Laughlin (a relative of Duncan Phillips, by the way), published the way those collectors collected. I suspect that POD technology is going to make it cost-effective for this more personal - and more reliable - form of publishing to flourish once more.