BRATTLEBORO—A 1993 unauthorized biography of Donald Trump is getting a second life, thanks to a Brattleboro publisher, Echo Point Books & Media, whose specialty is exhuming out-of-print books and bringing them to new readers.
“Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump” by Texas author Harry Hurt III chronicles the personal life and financial dealings of the current Republican presidential candidate in the days when he was tabloid fodder and not a political figure.
The only controversy it generated was from an allegation from Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, that he raped her. She made the claim during their divorce proceedings but later recanted.
“Lost Tycoon” includes a statement from Ivana Trump stating she was emotionally abused by her then husband, but never physically violated. Donald Trump never sued Hurt or the publisher of the book, W.W. Norton.
The book has been out of print for years, but Hurt, a former Newsweek correspondent and the author of several nonfiction books, wanted to get “Lost Tycoon” back on the market to take advantage of the interest in all things Trump during this election year.
Too dangerous to publish?
According to the New York Post, W.W. Norton was planning to put out an e-book reissue of “Lost Tycoon,” but Norton’s in-house lawyers nixed the plan, calling the book too “dangerous” to republish.
Calling Norton’s lawyers “chickenshit,” Hurt told the Post that “Trump’s chilling effect on the First Amendment is stunning. ‘Lost Tycoon‘ has been available on the market for over 23 years, and I’ve never been sued.”
The New York Times reported in June that Hurt self-published “Lost Tycoon“ on Amazon and quickly sold 60 copies. That caught the attention of Echo Point, who was more than happy to step in and republish the book.
“We’re a little bolder than bigger publishers,” Echo Point associate publisher Jake Mayer told The Commons. “The content is 23 years old, and the lawyers had already gone through it the first time around. But just the threat of litigation from Trump was enough for Norton to shut the project down.”
Echo Point joined Hurt to do a $5,000 Kickstarter.com fundraiser, promoting the project as “the book that Donald J. Trump doesn’t want you to read.” As of last week, 63 backers had pledged $5,392 to the project.
Echo Point’s offices are in the former site of The Book Press in North Brattleboro, which in its heyday — from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s — was one of the biggest printing plants in the Northeast. It’s a fitting home for a band of book junkies dedicated to the printed word.
Mayer said the company was founded by Marshall Glickman in the mid-2000s. Glickman, the founding editor and publisher of the environmental quarterly Green Living, was once a stockbroker who made enough money from his investments to drop out and pursue a publishing and writing career.
Finding a niche
Echo Point started in Glickman’s basement as a dealer of “hurt” books, or current, slightly damaged or imperfect books that had been returned to the publisher. It has a store at The Book Press to sell such books to the public, as well as a wholesale business for book dealers.
By 2011, Glickman started a publishing business, and Echo Point quickly grew into a 40-employee company.
Mayer said he came to the business later. He trained to be an acupuncturist and held a variety of odd jobs until he got a job as a manager of the book store. He ended up helping Glickman run the publishing division.
At first glance, finding out-of-print books to republish wouldn’t seem like a profitable business. But Meyer says Echo Point “is taking advantage of the inefficiencies of the publishing business.”
On-demand printing helps keep inventories down, and the editing and design of the books are done by area freelancers, Mayer said. In addition, republishing manuscripts, rather than starting the process from scratch, cuts down on the amount of work needed to create a book.
But Echo Point’s process begins with a simple question: Is there enough interest in a particular book on the used market to warrant printing a new edition?
“Most out-of-print books aren’t worth bringing back from a financial standpoint,” Mayer said. “But if we see a used book on Amazon or other online sites selling for $100, and there looks like there’s demand for it, we’ll look into it.”
Public domain editions of popular books are another source for Echo Point’s reissues. “Then, it becomes a matter of packaging and promotion,” Mayer said.
Red hot topicality
But mostly, the output of Echo Point reflects the eclectic tastes of Glickman, Mayer, and the rest of the team. The Trump book is something of an anomaly compared with the 350 or so titles Echo Point has republished. The red hot topicality of “Lost Tycoon” is the reason why.
“With ‘Lost Tycoon,’ we jumped on something that was newsworthy, rather than something that looked like a good book that we were interested in,” Mayer said. “Just the same, it’s a pretty fascinating book.”
He believes the book captures Trump’s personal character, his business ethics, and his treatment of women, and shows how little Trump has changed in the past two decades.
“His personality really shines through in this book,” Mayer said. “You can see the big ego, the lack of empathy, and the desire to be the center of attention is nothing new.”
So far, Mayer said Echo Point hasn’t heard from Trump or his lawyers. “There hasn’t been any harassment,“ he said. “Given everything else that’s going on in his campaign, you’d think that he wouldn’t have time for something innocuous like a 20-year-old book coming out.”