David R. Godine: Hero of the book

For those who love the physical book  when it's produced to be a thing of  beauty, this Boston Globe  story about  the great New England-based  independent publisher David R. Godine is an inspiration. Even in these  Amazonian days, publishers who see books as both an intellectual and physical art form can still sometimes make money, especially when the publisher's list turns out to include an obscure (in America) writer who has just won a Nobel Prize in Literature. That's what just happened with French writer Patrick Modiano.


"You bet we're going to make a lot of money off Modiano. You publish a Nobel Prize winner, you'd have to shoot yourself in the foot not to make a lot of money,'' he told The Globe.

But as his career has proven,  profit is not why Mr. Godine got into the book business. Rather, he became a publisher because of his love of the craft that started before he made his first book while at Dartmouth College, a book that,  The Globe reports, involved picking ''poems in Latin, Italian and French and using a variety of typefaces to print them as they originally appeared.''


I  have reviewed some of the  elegant volumes published by Mr. Godine over the past 40 years, and have met him a few times. He deserves much praise as  a quiet but relentless advocate for an essential part of our culture.