One-Minute Book Reviews

September 17, 2007

Great Small Presses #1: David R. Godine, Inc.

Filed under: Great Small Presses — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:09 am
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Fed up with the poor quality of so many books from major publishers? This is the first in the series of posts on great small or independent presses that have had high standards for years and sometimes decades.

In addition to its usual reviews, One-Minute Book Reviews will post a short profile of a different publisher each day this week, including a link to its site, which you may want to visit for holiday gift ideas. The series will continue after this week on an occasional basis.

Dr. Phil and Howard Stern don’t stand at chance at a Boston-based press known for books that are as intelligent as they are beautifully designed

By Janice Harayda

Diana Vreeland, the late Vogue editor, might have been talking about publisher David R. Godine when she said, “Elegance is refusal.” For more than 35 years, Godine (go-DEEN) has refused to give in to the market forces that have caused publishing standards to plummet.

Dr. Phil and Howard Stern don’t stand a chance at his firm, and if Lindsay Lohan writes an autobiography, she’ll have to pray that Simon & Schuster will take it on. Instead of chasing celebrity tell-alls or advice manuals, Godine has made a grail of producing books that are as intelligent as they are beautiful. He published Donald Hall’s wonderful essay collection, String Too Short to Be Saved, decades before its author became the U.S. Poet Laureate and issued one of the finest editions of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone.

More recently Godine has launched two new series with an international accent. Imago Mundi publishes books on photography and the graphic arts, such as Julie Saul’s Jean Cocteau: The Mirror and the Mask. Verba Mundi issues world literature in translation, including books by Isaac Babel and Jose Donoso. The many fine titles from Godine’s Boston–based firm include the late essayist Noel Perrin’s Best Person Rurual

One-Minute Book Reviews was the seventh-ranked book review site on Google of Sept. 6, 2007. It does not accept books, galleys, catalogs, print or electronic press releases or other promotional materials from publishers.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. A catalogue from a small press such as this is, itself, a book of wonders. Years ago, Gibbs Smith had me on its mailing list and just seeing that catalogue in the mail box made my day.

    I’m looking forward to a week of profiles.


    Comment by knightofswords — September 17, 2007 @ 10:07 pm

  2. I got a lot of good books from Gibbs Smith when I was the book editor of the Plain Dealer. If GS still publishing books of comparable quality, it’s a definitely firm I’d consider for future installments in this series. Thanks so much for the timely reminder.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — September 17, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

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