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Series I Editorial files, 1980s-2011
Series II: Institutional Files, 1987-2009
Series III: André Schiffrin Files, 1990-2007
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in four series.
Scope and Content
The New Press is an independent, non-profit, book publisher. It was established in 1992 by André Schiffrin and Diane Wachtell. The Press focuses on publishing books that are in the public interest. The records consist primarily of editorial files and Schiffrin's business and correspondence files. The records include appointment books, catalogs, correspondence, clippings, contracts, drafts, financial records, meeting notes, proposals, production records, reviews, rolodexes, and sales reports.
The New Press records consist primarily of editorial files. Most editorial files are in Series I: Editorial Files but Series II: Institutional Files also includes editorial records. Files related to specific book projects include author information, contracts, editorial correspondence, permissions, production information, publicity, and reviews. In most cases, these files do not include full sets of manuscripts, corrections, or proofs, although they do contain sample chapters, information on revisions, and short drafts. The Editorial Files and Institutional Files also contain files related to proposed projects and to subject areas where the Press had an interest in developing new projects.
The Editorial Files and Institutional Files also contain files related to the Board of Directors, Editorial Advisory Committees, development, finances, literary agents, sales, and translations.
The New Press Records also includes files maintained by André Schiffrin. These files consist primarily of correspondence, but also include appointment books, business records, clippings, a rolodex, and files related to the publication of Schiffrin's book, The Business of Books, and to André Gide, Jacques Schiffrin: Correspondance 1922-1950, relating to Schiffrin's father, published by Gallimard in 2005.
The records include a full set of catalogs (1992-2014). These are filed in Series IV: Catalogs.
The New Press records lack important business records. Records related to the Board of Directors, Advisory Committees, and the Editorial Board are not comprehensive, although there is a full set of records for the Editorial Board for 2006-2009. There are meeting notes and notebooks that supplement these records, but the creators of these are generally unidentified. The collection also lacks financial records, including budgets, planning documents, tax records, and other financial statements.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions, except that most contracts/check requests files for living persons are restricted due to the presence of restricted personal information in these records.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); New Press Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material-- at Columbia
Andre Schiffrin Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi and Atefeh Akbari (GSAS 2018), 2015-2016.
Finding aid written by Catherine C. Ricciardi, October 2016.
2016-10-19 File created.
2016-10-19 xml document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
The New Press was founded in 1992 by André Schiffrin and Diane Wachtell.
The founding of New Press grew out of the forced resignation of Schiffrin at Pantheon Books. Schiffrin had spent 28 years as managing editor and director-in-chief at Pantheon at Random House. But in 1990, Alberto Vitale, CEO at Random House, dismissed Schiffrin due to chronic losses at Pantheon and his refusal to accept cutbacks to his title list, his staff, and other changes. The dismissal was highly controversial, and was protested by other Pantheon editors and many high-profile authors.
Within two years, Schiffrin had raised enough money to start New Press, and its first book, Stud Terkel's Race, was published in the spring of 1992. New Press was an immediate success, and many of Schiffrin's authors from his time at Pantheon Books left Pantheon to work with him at New Press.
The Press also created an intern program to introduce young people from minority ethnic backgrounds into publishing with the aim of increasing diversity in the book business, which has benefited publishing as a whole.
Schiffrin remained Director and Editor in Chief at New Press until 2003, and then continued to work in the capacity of editor-at-large and founding director until his death in 2013. Wachtell has remained with New Press since its founding in 1992, and currently serves as its Executive Director.
The New Press was founded as an alternative to a conventional publishing model that Schiffrin believed could not or would not support serious books. The Press was created as an independent, nonprofit publisher of books "in the public interest," funded by major foundations. It aims to publish books in the public interest, "books that promote and enrich public discussion and understanding of the issues vital to our democracy and to a more equitable world." Over time, the Press has evolved to also function as an activist press, using books to leverage and to direct social change.