Jason Epstein

29th annual Key West Literary Seminar

—The Hungry Muse: An Exploration of Food in Literature—

January 6 - 16, 2011

Jason Epstein has led one of the most creative and influential careers in publishing of the past half century. In 1952, while an editor at Doubleday, he created the Anchor Books imprint. This was the first of the trade paperback formats, a format which has consistently remained profitable and popular since that time. He was the editorial director at Random House for forty years, responsible for the Vintage paperbacks, and was the editor to such authors as Vladimir Nabokov, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, and Philip Roth, as well as chefs Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck.

In 1963, Epstein co-founded The New York Review of Books with his then-wife Barbara Epstein, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Robert Lowell. In 1979, he and Edmund Wilson co-founded the Library of America, which continues to market archival quality editions of American classic literature. His most recent endeavour is On Demand Books, the company that markets the Espresso Book Machine, which is capable of printing entire books on demand at a cost of less than $5.00 per copy.

Among Epstein’s many awards are the National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Book Critics Circle, and the Curtis Benjamin Award given by the American Association of Publishers for enriching the world of books.

His newest book, Eating, is a memoir of his life among America’s literary elite, interleaved with recipes and anecdotes, “celebrating a lifetime of pleasure in cooking and eating well.”

Online Resources:

Julia Reed on Epstein in Newsweek
Epstein’s “Autopsy of the Book Business” in The Daily Beast
Epstein on Charlie Rose
Dwight Garner’s review of EATING in the NY Times

Selected Bibliography:

Eating: A Memoir (Knopf 2009)

Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future (W.W. Norton & Company 2002)

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