Q&A With Charles Spencer III
New Information about Upcoming Book Related News
With Charles Scribner III
latest guest is with author, art historian and publisher Charles Scribner III.
Some of Charles’s non-fiction books are Sacred Muse: A Preface to Christian Art
& Music, The Shadow of God: A Journey Through Memory, Art, and Faith &
his current release Scribners: Five Generations in Publishing.
Charles, would you like to talk about your current release Scribners Five
Generations in Publishing?
Sure. It was a book I never expected to write, so in a way it befits its story:
the first Charles Scribner, my great-great grandfather, originally planned a
career as a lawyer, but because of frail health he was advised by his doctors
to choose a less taxing profession. So he founded a publishing house! (I wonder
whether any physician today would prescribe such a choice.)
What made you want to write and publish Scribners about your family’s history
in publishing? What was the research process like when researching this book
and all your other non-fiction books?
wrote Scribners because my longtime editor and former publishing colleague
Michelle Rapkin told me I must. I was planning to follow my last book, a very
brief illustrated preface to Christian art and music titled Sacred Muse, with a
brief and personal series of walks through Rome with Caravaggio and Bernini,
two favorite artists, called Going for Baroque; but Michelle told me to write
the family publishing history first. Why? Because, she said, if I didn’t do it
then all the stories I had told her over the years would disappear with me. How
could I argue with that? So I took my laptop to Florida for my two months of
tropical exile last January and started writing each day. Following my dad’s
dictum ‘no rush, just do it immediately’, I started typing each morning. I was
hooked. It became a full-day job. By the end of January, a manic month of
writing, it was finished: seven pages a day times thirty days. That’s why the
book is 210 pages. Unlike my previous art books, based on years of research in
libraries, this book flowed from memory aided by a company timeline published
by the Princeton University Library, which houses our archives. I had my iPhone
at my side for fact checking via Google as I wrote, as I had previously done
while writing my spiritual journal-memoir The Shadow of God. Without that
technology the book would surely have taken ten times as long to complete. No
trips to libraries needed this time: everything was literally at my fingertips.
I’m so grateful I didn’t undertake it twenty years ago!
you are currently writing your next non-fiction book, what will the topic of
that book be about?
don’t know. My previous art book was likewise written by surprise as a
diversion in Florida exile. It’s so much shorter—an hour of reading—because I
had only an iPhone on which to write it, one digit at a time. Perhaps I’ll take
up those walks through Rome this winter as an ‘accidental tourist’.