Schiffrin further accuses two of his former colleagues at Random House, Epstein himself and Ashbel Green, of instigating the statement circulated at the time of the author's dismissal declaring his position--not to modify his list--to be unreasonable. I carefully checked with several sources, and again found that charge to be false. Later, Schiffrin claims that when, after his ouster from Pantheon, he was being considered for the post of director of Harvard University Press, two senior colleagues of his--Knopf editors--made phone calls to the university to queer the deal. But having made that very serious accusation, he fails to name the presumed culprits, a glaring act of omission. One could also question his lament about today's publishing playing field not being level: With his generous foundation funding, he competes in the marketplace against small independent publishers that operate without the benefit of any such financial help.
Equally baffling and upsetting from the pure publishing viewpoint are the myriad errors in "The Business of Books." To name but a few, in no particular order: He calls the late William Shawn, the distinguished editor of The New Yorker, Wallace Shawn (confusing him with his son, a playwright and actor). The publisher Dalkey Archive has on its list the novels of Leonard Moseley, Schiffrin reports; it publishes Nicholas Moseley. James Branch Cabell comes out, in Schiffrin's version, as James Branch Campbell (I suppose he could counter that two out of three ain't bad). John P. Marquand becomes James P. Marquand, and Thomas Costain is metamorphosed into Frank, while the title of his 1945 bestselling novel "The Black Rose" becomes "Black Robe." The Dutch publisher Wolter Kluwer becomes Walter Kluwers. Schiffrin cannot for the life of him spell two important publishers' names: Barney Rosset, the former head of Grove Press; and Michael Lynton, former head of Hyperion and Penguin Putnam. (He gets them wrong both in the text and in the index.) And he's totally bollixed the relationship between Viacom and its publishing entity Simon and Schuster.