Item description for Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost 4 Million Dollars by David Silverman...
Two months before David Silverman's32nd birthday, hevisited the Charles Schwab branch in the basement of the World Trade Center to wire his father's life savingstowards the purchase of the Clarinda Typesetting company in Clarinda, Iowa. Typo tells the true story of the Clarinda company's last rise and fall --- and with it one entrepreneur's story of what it means to take on, run, and ultimately lose an entire life's work. This book is an American dream run aground, told with humordespite moments of tragedy. The story reveals the impact of losing part of an entire industry and answers questions abouthow thatimpacts American business. The reader sees in Clarinda's fate the potential peril faced by every company, and the lessons learned are applicable to anyone who wants torun his or her own business, succeed in a large corporation, and notbe stranded by the reality of shifting markets, outsourcing, and, ultimately, capitalism itself.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 0.95 lbs.
Release Date Jun 21, 2007
Publisher Soft Skull Press
ISBN 1933368659 ISBN13 9781933368658
Availability 0 units.
More About David Silverman
DAVID SILVERMAN is the president of American Atheists and one of the best-known atheists in America. Known as "America's loudest heathen," a term he embraces proudly, Silverman is passionate about atheism and atheist equality. He has appeared on several T.V. programs for on-air debates, including, theO'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, Scarborough Country and CNN Paula Zahn NOW. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and child. Fighting God is his first book.
Reviews - What do customers think about Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost 4 Million Dollars?
A good read, but the author takes it too easy on himself Aug 31, 2008
The book certainly held my interest, and I enjoyed reading it. The blow-by-blow story of how an American company is crushed by industry forces (in this case, failing to adapt to low wage off-shoring competition) is compelling.
And yet, after finishing the book, the more I reflected on it, the less I liked it, and the less comfortable I felt with the author. One the plus side, he comes across as being forthright, and I give him props for baring his soul about how his company failed under his watch. Not many people would do that.
At the same time, Silverman did not seem to have much respect or empathy for his employees. He goes out of his way to make derogatory comments about their appearance or habits. The whole state of Iowa is portrayed as a grotesque backwater ... there are gratuitous digs taken against other locations ... indeed, if I recall correctly, no place away from the East Coast gets his respect. And that actually doesn't bother me much, except, that (i) I'm not sure that Silverman ever reconciles his utter failure to reach his employees with his lack of appreciation for them, and (ii) who in their right mind would buy a company in small-town Iowa and expect it to be driven by hard-charging cutting-edge types? That's not a knock on Iowa; the hard truth is that in small towns, opportunities are limited, so many ambitious, intelligent people leave, setting up a negative cycle where it's hard to start a new business because the labor pool isn't right.
Beyond that, there's a little too much of a victim mentality in the book, as if the company would have been fine if Fortuna hadn't thrown all these cataclysms into its way. And yet, the challenges the company faced were fairly prosaic: competition, unscrupulous salesmen, customers who backed out of contracts, employees who were incompetent, obstructionist, and/or resistant to change. Significant challenges to be sure, but ones that should have been expected all along.
There appears to be an element of axe-grinding in this book, which makes me treat it cautiously. That's understandable; as Silverman says, he lost his life savings, his father's life savings, and his father and friend passed away during that time.
Finally, I agree with a previous reviewer: the subtitle is misleading, as Clarinda was not the last American typesetting company, and the obfuscation of the name of Silverman's previous company is curious; it at least should have been explained.
There is no cow you have to have Jul 27, 2008
David Silverman's "Typo" will join my small shelf of business books. It is small not because I've read so few, but because I find so few worth keeping. David's is worth keeping - and worth reading again.
I do not expect it will be a big seller because it is too honest about the real difficulties of trying to change a business. "Typo" is an object lesson in getting into something you don't really understand, getting in over your head, trusting people who do not deserve that trust and ultimately making choices based on what you want to believe, not on what the facts show you. The value of David's readable, gripping book is the honesty he invests in the story. He shares what happened, all the well intentioned decisions that backfired one after another, the values that he wanted to believe would triumph in the end only to find that they left him vulnerable and exposed to people seeking their own survival or advantage, and the un-compassionate forces of pure free enterprise that he failed to comprehend and adapt to until it was too late. This book is valuable for learning how to set one's fantasies aside and meet and address the world as it really is.
The manager of a cattle ranch in Wyoming once shared with me an old adage of his business: There is no cow you have to have. What he meant was that you can love the business, but when the auction is on, you can't love the cows. Falling in love with a cow to the point where you stop thinking about the cost/benefit of your action is a fast way out of the cattle business.
Clarinda was David Silverman's cow - the cow he had to have. It was not a business but an emotion. That he still has the heart, after all he went through, to share that emotional journey with us is something I find extraordinary and courageous. For anyone who wants to see an honest story of an honest attempt to do good, I can strongly recommend "Typo."
Title begins correctly, but book goes down from there Jun 10, 2008
Only the first word of the title is accurate --- much of this book is a mistake, but Clarinda was not ``the last American typesetter'' (there are a number still in business), and a lot of the ``facts'' in the book are mistaken (or made up). Quark XPress cannot automatically hang punctuation (there was one plug-in which enabled this, by a German company, but the plug-in went away before being released because the API it needed, while present in v3, went away in v4), it is possible to directly compose pages from XML (or SGML), LaTeX is a TeX macro package, not a descendent or derivative of TeX, &c.
The author exhibits a reprehensible lack of respect for others, violating a number of personal confidences, the exposures of which do nothing for the book or the reader (most egregiously, I don't see how a detailed recounting of his business partner's sex life is germane). This lack of respect even extends to the reader --- while a number of company and product names are changed in the book, no note of that is made in the frontmatter as is customary, nor does the author make any mention of this in his list of errata. (For the curious, DataData was really InnoData, SuperLeaf was really InterLeaf and I believe FUN coding was MathML, but there's not enough context for me to tell.) There's also no index.
The typesetting of the book is quite pedestrian, rife with errors such as bad breaks, orphans, widows and stacks (as well as the numerous grammatical errors and misspellings noted on the author's errata page).
Most painful of all is the knowledge that many others in the industry overcame the same difficulties which bankrupted the author's company --- succeeding by working harder and smarter and finding new business instead of hiding in their private office playing computer games --- but their story won't be told because they're all too busy working and meeting their commitments, too honest and decent to run away and make up stories as the author of this book did.
DIATRIBE Dec 20, 2007
How can Typo: be touted as a (non-fiction) business book, when only some of its pages accurately depict the typesetting industry's changes and, in particular, Clarinda's demise?
The characterizations of Dan and his family during their very personal and tragic struggle with the disease of alcoholism are nothing more than misrepresentations and distortions of the truth. Kudos, however, to the author for recognizing that only by adding his own creative embellishments to this tragedy, would he successfully sell his story.
Mr. Silverman failed in his attempt as an up-and-coming entrepreneurial businessman; perhaps he should consider applying his obvious creative writing talents to authoring a fictional thriller or romance novel. Who knows, he might find that $4 million he lost.
The ups and downs of entrepreneurship Dec 16, 2007
Wow. What an amazing book. As someone who has made and lost a lot of money over the years I really learn best from the mistakes of others. David Silverman is a strong man to have told his story and told it well. Read this book if you want to learn from someone else's mistakes for a change.