Home grown in Berkeley, Steve Wasserman, publisher and executive editor of Heyday Books and former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, will argue that books will survive as long as the human species is defined by its opposable thumb and its obsessive need to tell each other stories. He will question is the Age of Gutenberg finished? Has the Internet now become so widespread as to render books obsolete? Are publishers dinosaur institutions? Is the crisis of American literacy also a crisis of American democracy? Does it matter?
“He’s probably as knowledgeable about books and ideas as anyone alive,” said Robert Scheer, the Southern California author and journalist who has known Wasserman for more than 40 years. “To find someone who is both an excellent editor and agent and doesn’t feel competitive with you as a writer is very rare. He’s the total package.”
Link here to the recent front-page Chronicle story about Steve Wasserman:
Steve Wasserman, raised in Berkeley and a graduate of Cal, is a former editor-at-large for Yale University Press and editorial director of Times Books/Random House and publisher of Hill & Wang and The Noonday Press at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He has worked with many authors and published numerous books, including, most recently, Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs, Martha Hodes's Mourning Lincoln, David Thomson's Why Acting Matters, and two posthumous volumes of the late critic Ralph J. Gleason's musical and political writings.
A founder of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California, Wasserman was a principal architect of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books during the nine years he served as editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review (1996-2005). He began his career as an assistant editor to the late Warren Hinckle at Francis Ford Coppola's City Magazine of San Francisco and went on to become deputy editor of the Sunday Opinion section and Op-Ed Page of the Los Angeles Times (1978-1983) before becoming editor-in-chief of New Republic Books, based in Washington, D.C. and New York. He has served as a member of the Pulitzer Prize nominating committee for both nonfiction and fiction, and is a former member of the selection committee for the literary prizes awarded by the Commonwealth Club of California.
Wasserman was also a partner in Kneerim & Williams, a Boston-based literary agency, and represented, among others, Robert Scheer, the late Christopher Hitchens, David Thomson, Linda Ronstadt, and Placido Domingo. He has written for many publications, including The Village Voice, Threepenny Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The American Conservative, The Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, and the (London) Times Literary Supplement.