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  • Bridges, Burning: A Talk on the Future of Publishing
  • Jessa Crispin + Dennis Johnson of Melville House
  • 06.11.2007
    At the STOP SMILING storefront

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On June 11th, Jessa Crispin, founder of the literary website, teamed up with Dennis Johnson, publisher of Melville House, at the STOP SMILING storefront to discuss the demise of newspaper book reviews and the current hardships independent book publishers face. Johnson dissected the fundamentals of publishing while Crispin voiced her grievances with book reviews, book awards and how large publishing houses deal with writers. At one point she asked, “How many book reviews do we need about the same book?” When asked if he would ever publish “crap” to maintain his house’s viability in such a troubled industry, Johnson replied, “No, never. You will never see me publish crap.” Both speakers questioned the worth of literature in a culture that is, as Johnson stated, “anti-intellectual.”

The evening concluded with an audience Q&A exploring the significance of book awards, the pros and cons of Oprah and why literature and independent presses are losing the cultural battle against multinational media conglomerates. Crispin and Johnson reminded the audience of the importance of independent press and left us with vigor for the printed word, as well as a sense of optimism that there still are prospective readers vying for the outlets they both represent.

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photography by: Danielle Scruggs

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