It’s the birthday of publisher Alfred A. Knopf (1892), born in New York City. He started his own publishing house when he was 23, and it soon gained a reputation for publishing works of literary merit. He was a hands-on boss, overseeing every aspect of production, down to the typeface. He wanted to publish quality books and didn’t really care how well they sold. In 1923, he published Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet and was nonplussed when it became a huge best-seller.
He co-founded the literary magazine The American Mercury with H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan in 1924, and remained its publisher for 10 years. He also published the work of several notable authors of the 20th century, including Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, D.H. Lawrence, James Baldwin, Theodore Dreiser, and Langston Hughes; his favorite of all his authors was Willa Cather.
Source: The Writer’s Almanac
Personal Postscript — I’m with Knopf on Cather, and I hope to revisit some of her stories and novels in future postings. However, friends, while my future postings will still include some of the foregoing sort, tidbits taken from Internet sources, I will also include occasional reader-responses based on my reading, and more than a hundred published book reviews which I will make available to you now and then from my archives. Even as I make the foregoing announcements, I have serious doubts about the “readers’ market” for any such postings and for blogging itself. Yes, I ask you, what worthwhile purposes are served by such efforts now? Aren’t blogs “over the hill,” anachronistic irrelevancies in 2018, an era dominated by other, more popular social media? Indeed, haven’t many blogs become a narcissistic refuge for senior citizens who are ignorant of and intimated by other, more contemporary social media platforms? Hmmm.