My Back Pages: an undeniably personal history of publishing 1972-2022
- Publication Date:
- 17th Apr 2023
- Marble Hill Publishers
- 174 pages
Our price £20.00
My Back Pages
Richard Charkin’s experience as a publisher is unique among his generation. Over the past half century he has been a scientific and medical publisher, a journal publisher, a digital publisher and a general publisher. He has worked for family-owned companies, public companies and start-ups. In this memoir he uses his unrivalled experience to illustrate the profound changes that have affected the identity and practices but not the purpose of publishing.
Of course there are stories about well-known personalities he has encountered - Madonna, Jeffrey Archer, Robert Maxwell, Paul Hamlyn, Mohammed Al-Fayed and many more. But his primary purpose is to provide an insider’s account of the social, technological, commercial and geographical developments as seen through the eyes of a gifted all-round publisher who has made a very significant contribution to the profession.
- To understand the dramatic changes of the last half century this is the landmark book.<
- The essential guide for writers, readers, students of publishing, and book industry professionals including librarians, booksellers, literary agents, printers, copyright lawyers, digital experts.
"Richard Charkin's My Back Pages is an extraordinary exposition of his quite extraordinary career. There is surely no other trade book and academic journal publisher of the last half century so qualified and so competent to describe and evaluate the market's endless and astonishing twists and turns over that time. Charkin's opinionated anecdotes and reflections provide intriguing colour and pace, and are sometimes very funny, but It is his technical overview of the market over these five decades of constant technical revolution that is so absorbing, so clear minded, so wide flung, so instructive. My Back Pages should now become a compulsory text for new career entrants into the publishing world. It's that good. " Sir Tim Waterstone
"A fascinating personal assessment of the rise and growth of publishing by someone whose lived through it and whose experience, knowledge and wisdom is second to none." Delia Smith
"I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is more than a memoir but a genuine history of publishing, of interest to anyone in the industry and furthermore anyone interested in publishing, especially authors and would-be authors." Bob Campbell. Former President, Blackwell Scientific
"Richard Charkin changed UK publishing. He also, thankfully, made it more fun." Charlotte Mendelson
"I found it fascinating and full of interest....Your early years in the business are particularly riveting to somebody who joined much later on." Antony Topping, Managing Director, Greene & Heaton Literary Agency
"This book spans 50 years of British publishing, and makes them all interesting. Richard Charkin never minded stirring the pot, and clearly he is still at it. He offers a tour of the publishers where he worked, of the industry, and of the many colorful characters he came across. From Lord Archer to Harry Potter, all the stories are here, and they are told with flair in Richard's signature voice. I loved it!" John Sargent, former CEO of Macmillan USA
"I thoroughly enjoyed this. You have a great eye for the telling details that illuminate the progress (or otherwise) of publishing from the Seventies to now, and you have so many good stories… it is an impressive achievement." Nick Clee, Joint Editor and Founder, BookBrunch
"A riveting account of the last fifty years of publishing by one of the industry’s most successful - and boisterous - characters." Alexandra Pringle
"What an amazing career. I can’t think of anyone else who has been active in such a wide range of sorts of publishing. I should think there will be a host of people who know you through the sector of publishing that they are in but will be interested in your experience of all the other sectors that they don’t know about." Andrew L Schuller, Publishing Consultant, Formerly Editorial Director Humanities and Social Sciences OUP
"I can really hear your voice throughout, and it’s wonderfully entertaining. Bravo. It really is a joy." Patrick Brindle, Into Content (?)
"Richard Charkin is a professional’s professional, and no-one knows the book trade better." Jeffrey Archer
"Overall this makes great reading. Richard Charkin’s personal history illuminates the changes in publishing and mixes in some vital themes, such as the role of women and structural developments in how the trade operates." Professor Angus Phillips, Director of the Oxford International Centre for Publishing, Oxford Brookes University
“A fascinating and hugely entertaining personal history of the last half century of British publishing. A must-read for anyone who cares about books and their unique and fundamental role in our lives.” William Boyd
"A rattling good read, certain to become a classic in the publishing trade." Philip Norman
The Story Behind...
My Back Pages
How did I come to publish my old friend and rival, Richard Charkin? Despite our longevity, he and I continue to publish with our own small presses because it is what we know and love. We were having lunch one day when Richard asked if I would look at his memoir.
I was completely gripped by the originality of his manuscript. Throughout his career Richard has successfully defied convention and this remarkable account of his fifty years as a publisher endorses his track record. This is a publishing memoir unlike any I have read - indeed, I can find no comparison among my collection of books on publishing. Why? Because the range of Richard’s experience - in science, medical, academic, digital, general and journal publishing - is unique and unrivalled.
Of course he includes stories about authors and books he has published and people he has worked with. But this prime purpose is to tell us through the lens of his own extraordinary experience the story of the dramatic changes of the past fifty years that have transformed the publishing industry.
I was certain I wanted to publish his book. Richard, who is an instinctive dealmaker, immediately went into negotiation mode. How much I paid for his manuscript will remain a tightly guarded secret. When it comes to negotiation, I am no rival to my author!
What’s it like publishing a fellow professional? If all publisher/author relationships worked like this, our lives would be much easier than my experience tells me they are.
This is a really important book that I am certain will be read for years to come by anyone who has any interest in books and publishing.