Knopf, Scandinavians, and publishing legends

Knopf is tagging along with another Scandinavian publishing phenomenon. This interesting article in Publisher’s Weekly details how Swedish agent Niclas Salomonsson convinced executives to sign up Lars Kepler.

Kepler is the pen name of a husband-and-wife duo who have sold 11 million copies around the world, but failed to crack the United States market.

The article recounts how Salomonsson flew to India to directly pitch legendary Knopf publisher Sonny Mehta. The piece also references publicity head Paul Bogaards. These were names I hadn’t considered recently, but that brought back a number of memories.

When I first worked in a bookstore and started paying attention to contemporary literature more seriously, Mehta and Bogaards were idols. I have an advance copy of Josephine Hart’s debut novel Damage that includes a signed note from Mehta. It’s a gorgeously produced advance, unlikely to be produced today. At the same time, Bogaards was promoting one of my college heroes, Jay McInerney. It’s amazing to think that these leaders are still in place, decades later.

In a day when we are seemingly bombarded by reports of how publishing is an embattled industry, buffeted by change and turmoil, it’s great to see these people still helming the ship.

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