Alfred A. Knopf
|Parent company||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Founder||Alfred A. Knopf, Sr.|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City, New York|
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (pronounced //, with an audible k and silent p) is an award-winning New York publishing house that was founded by Alfred A. Knopf Sr. in 1915. The publisher had a reputation for a pursuit of perfection and elegant taste. It was acquired by Random House in 1960 and is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The Knopf publishing house is associated with its borzoi colophon (shown at right), which was designed by co-founder Blanche Knopf in 1925.
Knopf was founded in 1915 by Alfred A. Knopf, Sr with a $5,000 advance from his father. The first office was located in New York's Candler Building. The publishing house was officially incorporated in 1918, with Alfred Knopf as president, Blanche Knopf as vice-president, and Samuel Knopf as treasurer. Blanche and Alfred traveled abroad regularly and were known for publishing European, Asian, and Latin American writers in addition to leading American literary trends. Samuel Knopf died in 1932. William A. Koshland joined the company in 1934, and worked with the firm for more than fifty years, rising to take the positions of President and Chairman of the Board. Blanche became President in 1957 when Alfred became Chairman of the Board, and worked steadily for the firm until her death in 1966. Alfred Knopf retired in 1972, becoming chairman emeritus of the firm until his death in 1984. Alfred Knopf also had a summer home in Purchase, New York.
Beginning in 1920, Knopf also produced a chapbook, for the purpose of promoting new books. The Borzoi was published periodically over the years, the first being a hardback called the Borzoi and sometimes quarterly as the Borzoi Quarterly. In 1923 Knopf also started publishing periodicals, beginning with The American Mercury, founded by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, which it published through 1934.
Following the Good Neighbor policy, Blanche Knopf visited South America in 1942, so the firm could start producing texts from there. She was one of the first publishers to visit Europe after World War II. Her trips, and those of other editors, brought in new writers from Europe, South America, and Asia. Alfred traveled to Brazil in 1961, which spurred a corresponding interest on his part in South America. Their son, Alfred "Pat" Jr., was hired on as secretary and trade books manager after the war.
In a 1957 advertisement in the Atlantic Monthly, Alfred A. Knopf published the Borzoi Credo. The credo includes a list of what Knopf's beliefs for publishing including the statement that he never published an unworthy book. Among a list of beliefs listed is the final one--"I believe that magazines, movies, television, and radio will never replace good books."
In 1960 Random House acquired Alfred A. Knopf. It is believed that the decision to sell was prompted by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr., leaving Knopf to found his own book company, Atheneum Books in 1959.
While there have been many notable editors at Knopf there have only been three editors-in-chief-- Alfred A. Knopf, Sr., Robert Gottlieb and Sonny Mehta. Other influential editors at Knopf included Harold Strauss (Japanese literature), Herbert Weinstock (biography of musical jargon composers), Judith Jones (culinary texts), as well as Angus Cameron, Charles Elliott, Gary Fisketjon, Lee Goerner, Ashbel Green, Carol Brown Janeway, Michael Magzis, Anne McCormick, Nancy Nicholas, Daniel Okrent, Regina Ryan, Sophie Wilkins, and Vicky Wilson. Knopf also employed literary scouts to good advantage.
A publisher of hardcover fiction and nonfiction, Knopf's list of authors includes Albert Camus, John Banville, Carl Bernstein, Robert Caro, Willa Cather, Julia Child, Bill Clinton, Joan Didion, Bret Easton Ellis, James Ellroy, Martin Gardner, Lee H. Hamilton, Kazuo Ishiguro, John Keegan, Anne Rice, Nella Larsen, Jack London, Gabriel García Márquez, Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Christopher Paolini, Ezra Pound, Dorothy Richardson, Susan Swan, Anne Tyler, Andrew Vachss, James D. Watson, and Elinor Wylie. At least 17 Nobel Prize and 47 Pulitzer Prize winning authors have been published by Knopf, though they have also passed at times on subsequently notable books.
Since its founding, Knopf has paid close attention to design and typography, employing notable designers and typographers including William Addison Dwiggins, Harry Ford, Steven Heller, Chip Kidd, Lorraine Louie, Bruce Rogers, Rudolf Ruzicka, and Beatrice Warde. Knopf books conclude with an unnumbered page titled "A Note on the Type", which describes the history of the typeface used for the book. In addition, Knopf books date the year of the book's current printing on the title page.
In 1991, Knopf revived the "Everyman's Library" series, originally published in England in the early 20th century. This series consists of classics of world literature in affordable hardcover editions. The series has grown over the years to include lines of Children's Classics and Pocket Poets.
Random House was acquired by Bertelsmann in 1998. In late 2008 and early 2009, the Knopf Publishing Group merged with Doubleday to form the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Random House has been owned since its 2013 merger of Penguin Group by Penguin Random House, a joint venture between Bertelsmann (53%) and Pearson PLC (47%).
Many of Knopf's hardcover books are published later as Vintage paperbacks. Vintage Books is a sister imprint of Random House.
In 2015, Knopf celebrated its 100th Anniversary by publishing a commemorative book--Alfred A. Knopf, 1915-2015: A Century of Publishing.
- Korda, Michael (1999). Another life : a memoir of other people (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 0679456597.
- "Alfred A. Knopf Inc. Organizational History". Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
- Swanson, Clare (15 May 2015). "A Century of Alfred A. Knopf". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "Borzoi Reader | Index". www.randomhouse.com. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
- Knopf, Alfred A. "The Borzoi Credo". Alfred A. Knopf Tumblr. Alfred A. Knopf. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- Knopf, Alfred A.: Portrait of a Publisher, 1915-1965. 2 vols. New York: Typophiles, 1965.
- Oshinsky, David (2007-09-09). "No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
- "Knopf: Then and Now". AIGA/NY. 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
- McGraw-Hill Is Buying 2 Random House Units
- Flamm, Matthew (2008-12-03). "Shakeups hit Random House, other publishers". Crain's New York Business.com. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
- "A Century of Alfred A. Knopf". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
- "2013 Winners and Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
- "National Book Awards - 2009". National Book Award. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
- Official website
- Knopf Doubleday - The official website of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and its imprints.
- The Borzoi Reader Online - Knopf's official website.
- Random House Speakers Bureau - Random House's Lecture Bureau.
- Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records, 1873-1996 at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
- Knopf Tumblr Page
- The Borzoi 1920: being a sort of record of five years's of publishing