Placing Papers: The American Literary Archives Market (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book) (Paperback)

Placing Papers: The American Literary Archives Market (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book) By Amy Hildreth Chen Cover Image
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The sale of authors' papers to archives has become big news, with collections from James Baldwin and Arthur Miller fetching record-breaking sums in recent years. Amy Hildreth Chen offers the history of how this multimillion dollar business developed from the mid-twentieth century onward and considers what impact authors, literary agents, curators, archivists, and others have had on this burgeoning economy.

The market for contemporary authors' archives began when research libraries needed to cheaply provide primary sources for the swelling number of students and faculty following World War II. Demand soon grew, and while writers and their families found new opportunities to make money, so too did book dealers and literary agents with the foresight to pivot their businesses to serve living authors. Public interest surrounding celebrity writers had exploded by the late twentieth century, and as Placing Papers illustrates, even the best funded institutions were forced to contend with the facts that acquiring contemporary literary archives had become cost prohibitive and increasingly competitive.

About the Author

AMY HILDRETH CHEN is English and communications librarian at the University of Iowa.

Praise For…

"Placing Papers presents a fascinating overview of the American literary archives market and should be read by anyone working with these collections. Chen’s work not only provides important information and new insights, but it also raises many fruitful questions that should serve as a building block for future scholarship on writers’ papers."—RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage

"Placing Papers
’ straightforward prose and organizational structure is a pleasure to read. This book serves not only as an excellent overview of who is involved in collecting literary archives and when, but it also serves as a near perfect framework for how to structure a scholarly work written around a timely, thorough, and meaningful dataset."—SHARP News

"Placing Papers: The American Literary Archives Market is a well-written and fascinating history of how various stakeholders—and their differing motivations—shaped the literary archives trade in the United States of America . . . It is also a lively and enjoyable read and would appeal to anyone, regardless of their level of familiarity with the topic, who is interested in authors' papers and the thorny question of 'value' in literary archives."—College and Research Libraries

"In her informative and inventive Placing Papers: The Literary Archives Market, Amy Hildreth Chen introduces readers to the various actors and interests that shape the competitive market of literary archives . . . In lucid prose, she introduces her readers to the key players of the archives market, noting that the emergence of this market is inextricable from the invention of contemporary literature."—American Literary History

"The author's prose offers sheer grace and cleverness, shrugging off the burdens of the empirical/institutional nature of the project to produce a nascent work of valuable cultural criticism alongside its more purely informational dimension."—Mark McGurl, author of The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing

"Chen's research is impressive, drawing from a multifarious range of documents, everything from journals on trends in library science to correspondence with literary market professionals to journalism on trends in publishing."—Eric Bennett, author of Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing during the Cold War

Product Details
ISBN: 9781625344854
ISBN-10: 1625344856
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book