Jason Epstein, Book Biz Innovator, and a legendary editor passed away at 93
on Feb 08, 2022
Jason Epstein, the renowned Random House editor who also had a deep passion for literature with an acute business mind, passed away on February 4th, at the age of 93.
After starting his publishing career at Doubleday, Epstein joined Random House in 1958. He edited works of authors like Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, E.L. Doctrow, and Philip Roth. Soon, he became well known for his author list and for his publishing innovations.
In 1952, Epstein borrowed a format that had been used in British publishing while he was looking for a way to make hardcover books more accessible to start America’s first trade paperback publisher, Anchor Books. During a New Year City paper strike in the early 1960s, he co-founded the New York Review of Books, and went on to create the Library of America.
His final move of bringing something new was in 2006, when he co-founded the On Demand Books company, which initiated marketing the Espresso Book Machine. The Espresso Book Machine prints books from digital files from various locations, including bookstores, although its high cost has put a downfall in its success. Epstein was also the author of Book Business, published in 2001, and Eating: A Memoir, which was released in 2009.
“We mourn the passing of our extraordinary, pathfinding former colleague Jason Epstein—editor, publisher and publishing entrepreneur, and visionary,” Penguin Random House said in a statement. “With his founding of our Anchor Books, which was the creation of the trade-paperback format, and his decades of distinguished editorial and publishing leadership and vision, he helped shape Doubleday, Anchor, Random House, Vintage Books, and the larger literary community and culture like no other.”
Among the many awards Epstein won was the Poor Richard Award, presented by the New York Center for Independent Publishing in 2010. The award organizers said that Epstein “embodies the award's true spirit, with his creativity and tireless devotion to the written word.”