AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
THE DIAL PRESS intends to keep its list compact and to print nothing that it does not feel in one way or another possesses distinction. By being able to concentrate on a few books, it will be possible to promote each with maximum efficiency." Thus it was written in May 1938, on the occasion of the Dial Press being recalled to life--for the first time.
This spring, the imprint that took as its colophon a cupid and lion way back in 1924, is entering its third life, having seen in its previous incarnations many a publishing twist and turn. But in an afternoon's conversation with Susan Kamil, whom Dell/Delacorte publisher Carole Baron invited in August 1993 to revive the press (which had been closed by its then corporate parent, Doubleday, in 1985), it was clear that the manifesto from the '30s had found a niche within the big publishing culture of the '90s.
An Illustrious History
Kamil has her work cut out for her: to foster an imprint that will flourish well into the 21st century while living up to the reputation of a press that for most decades of the 20th was emblematic of the finest that publishing had to offer. Dial began at the tail end of an era when publishing was still in great part a gentleman's profession, the gentlemen in question being almost overwhelmingly white anglo-saxon protestant.
The press's founder, Lincoln MacVeagh, was scion of a diplomatic family, and left Henry Holt--where he had published Einstein's Relativity and the first English translation of Proust--at the instigation of Schofield Thayer, his college classmate and the founder of the Dial Magazine. The new publisher shared premises with Thayer--thus the name-- but the magazine and book businesses were completely separate. The press first published works by authors like Glenway Westcott and Elizabeth Bowen.
But in 1933, MacVeagh heeded Roosevelt's call to public service, and became ambassador to Greece. A year later, assets of the Dial Press were sold to a remainder house, although the corporate name and imprint were retained quite separately by the old stockholders. That made it possible for Burton Hoffman to buy the press and restart it in 1938, at a time when the New York publishing scene was accommodating an ever-increasing influx of Jewish talent …