Cover Image: Turning Pages

Turning Pages

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Member Reviews

Librarians will have conflicting feelings about this title. The insider tea is fascinating and it is cool to see how the sausage is made. Sargent has had a lifetime of wild experiences with heads of state, celebrities, and other assorted luminaries. On the other hand, I have trouble connecting with a rich, privileged dude who puts the screws to libraries with embargoes on digital book release dates and insane pricing for said ebooks. "Turning Pages" is an okay read.

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John Sargent takes you into the publishing world. How he's become what he's been. How the business of books is done. How the future of the written word might look like. Thank you. What an insight.

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This book varied between interesting and scattered-feeling. I was under the impression that it would be focused on publishing, but there were quite a few stories that felt out-of-place. There were tales of the author's life that had nothing to do with publishing and didn't feel connected to the overall story either. Sometimes they just ended. I wish this had been a lot more cohesive and a lot more focused on actually giving the reader a peek behind the publishing curtain.

Thank you to Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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3.5 stars. This is an entertaining memoir by the former CEO of Macmillan. I love books with an inside look at the publishing world and this is definitely that. The chapters were short snapshots of some of his experiences. I thought some chapters were really interesting while others I skimmed over. Definitely worth reading if you are interested in going behind the scenes of some the the biggest recent publishing stories. I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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This book felt more like a set of anecdotes than the memoir I was expecting, but even so it was an engaging book. Sargent was at the forefront of some big books and some major negotiations. He probably shaped Amazon/Kindle offerings more than he shared in the book. Having spent my career in publishing, I found the book interesting

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Written as a collection of short essays, Sargent’s personal experiences give insight into the hard-hitting publishing world. Even those not familiar with the big-name publishers mentioned will know the names of Sargent’s clients and colleagues. What sometimes comes off as humble bragging is saved by Sargent’s charm. Turning Pages is an enjoyable, easy read.

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Turning Pages
The Adventures and Misadventures of a Publisher
by John Sargent
Pub Date 19 Sep 2023 |
Skyhorse Publishing,Arcade
Biographies & Memoirs

Skyhorse Publishing, Arcade, and Netgalley provided me with a copy of Turning Pages for review:

Taking a peek behind the pages of Turning Pages provides a rare insight into
some of the biggest publishing moments in the past several decades with forty-year industry veteran John Sargent.

With Turning Pages: The Adventures and Misadventures of a Publisher, the author shares his forty years in the publishing industry. For twenty-four years, John Sargent ran one of America's largest publishing companies. Instead of a chronological narrative, Sargent takes us inside book publishing through the best stories from those years. Through his weaving of these stories, he takes the reader on a journey through triumph and despair, as well as a very interesting day-to-day life. Readers will meet his odd publishing family, his interesting authors, and celebrities he worked with. He recounts his experience having an author meeting at Buckingham Palace and publishing Monica Lewinsky. Readers are taken along on Macmillan's battles with Amazon, the Department of Justice, and President Donald Trump.

The reader will share his occasional pain and seemingly endless joy, from a one-room schoolhouse in Wyoming to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa, in Turning Pages. It's a book for those who enjoy a good story about an interesting life, full of humor and grace. Those who love books and have always wondered about the publishing industry should read this behind-the-scenes look at some of the biggest moments in publishing over the last several decades.

I give Turning Pages five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!

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An interesting look behind the scenes of the publishing business. The author pulls back the curtains and allows you a peek into what he experienced during his long career as a publisher. Full of fun insights and gossip into different authors and personalities. Easily readable. Well written.

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A memoir from the grandson of the Doubleday Publishing company would attract many people who are interested in publishing world. Sargent is also known for his stand on the hot issue of Amazon book pricing. He writes with self-deprecating humor and candor about his life and career allowing the reader to take a peek at the situations of which one could say, I'd love to be a fly on the wall when it was happening. It also gives you a better appreciation of the problems publishers encounter in their work. Good read for all the people who like books.

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As an early adopter of Kindle technology, I've been fascinated by the changes the publishing industry has been going through in the last 12 years and curious to see how it all ends up shaking out. As the former head of Macmillan Publishing John Sargent was central to much of the antitrust drama and I figured he would have some interesting stories to tell about his career.

I ended up fascinated instead by how his childhood, which from the outside should have been straightforward and easy due to his position as the "privileged" son of a publishing heiress and the head of another major publishing company shaped him into a person with the self-sufficiency to take on pretty much any business challenge and to make hard decisions no matter the possible cost. His mother clearly had her own struggles, his father pretty much ignored him, and he grew up in rural Wyoming, attending a tiny public school, doing chores on a ranch, and generally raising himself. This background gave him a love and appreciation for the wild spaces and wild people in the world that he probably wouldn't have gotten if he'd had a more conventional background.

The stories he chose to include were also fascinating, featuring Sarah Ferguson, Monica Lewinsky, Hilary and Bill Clinton, a young Jeff Bezos, and many others, along with a whole host of publishing movers and shakers. His style of story telling is short and punchy. He doesn't waste a lot of words and gets right to the essence of the story without embellishment. It was a quick and engaging read, especially when he talks about the publishing industry itself. I felt like he did a good job giving the feel for the industry, without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

The book was a bit choppy though, and jumped around in time. sometimes making it hard to reconcile the actions being described with my recollection of the current events at that time. Overall, I think Sargent was pretty successful at conveying the stories he wanted to tell and sidestepping the controversies. The book is very readable and illuminating. My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

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Reading this book was like being on a rollercoaster ride! There were parts of the book that I found a bit slow, but most of the book I could not read fast enough! I expected this book to be generally about how books come to be published, which it is to an extent, but it is the story or stories of how certain books came to be published. And there is a lot of information there! There is some autobiographical information of the author, which gives the book a truly personal touch. Hurray for the First Amendment and for those who stand up for it!
I thank NetGalley and Skyhorse publishing for the advance read.

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I enjoy biographies and memoirs so this book was right up my alley. John Sargent wrote with candour and humor., many a time inducing a chuckle and even a laugh out of me. I have to admit to being particularly intrigued with his descriptions of associations with some instantly recognisable names. It was also interesting and fun to read about what a CEO often have to do to get some of the big titles out there.

4 stars from me. A nice read.

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The book consists of a series of anecdotes from the writer's professional and personal life, and mostly recounts his associations with personalities, establishments, and historic events. The narration is rather sober, refusing to overplay or sensationalise the events, and possesses an overall warmth and a humorous inclination. I have noted that the author tries to be fair and empathetic to all, and always looks at things from differing viewpoints. I could also detect a person who always ensured the best for his authors on these pages (though this observation is solely based on what I read on these pages, and I have no inkling about what actually transpired).

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I chose this book because I was intrigued by the title.

John Turner Sargent’s mother’s paternal grandfather was Frank Nelson Doubleday who was the founder of Doubleday and Company. The same Doubleday family who at one point owned the New York Mets.

John Sargent tells stories of how he got started in the business, authors, controversial books, and behind the scenes of publishing companies. He had a lot of dealings with the Amazon and Apple folks when the Kindle and iPad came out in regard to eBooks.

Just to name a few authors mentioned: Michael Wolf, Edward Snowden, Monica Lewinsky, LL Cool J, Sarah Ferguson, President Jimmy Carter, Newt Gingrich, Salman Rushdie, Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, Janet Evanovich, Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama.

He had a brief encounter with Britney Spears at a hotel gym, when she was with Kevin Federline. He actually introduced her to the iPod! He had some not-so-great dealings with Bobby Knight and Alec Baldwin.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book.

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As a rule, I don’t care for memoirs. But as a reader and an author, I am very interested in the publishing industry, and who better to learn about it from then a man who has been in it for decades.
Sargent comes from a book-forward family and has been in business for a long time, including the nearly four decades of being the boss at Macmillan before his relatively recent and less than amicable parting of ways with the company.
So yeah, I figured I’d read it. And I’m glad I did. Differing from a typical discursive rambling memoir, Sargent’s book is lean and streamlined, organized into several cohesive sections and chaptered by events. It’s an almost anecdotal approach, a chronological storytelling. And Sargent certainly has stories to tell. Then man has met tons of famous people, from respectable authors to infamous pop stars. Everyone wants to write a book, from politicians to sports people.
Sargent also gives a somewhat comprehensive overview of the advent of digital publishing and his struggle against Amazon. And there are other fun tales, my favorite being the time him and a colleague decided to charm Barnes and Noble into stocking one of their books by weaponizing beads during the time of fashionably clean-shaven professionals.
Overall, an entertaining and enlightening look, a fun book about what goes into making one. Thanks Netgalley.

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A fun, gossipy memoir at about at the forefront of one the world's biggest publishers—Macmillan. John Sargent spills a little tea on many of the bold faced names he's dealt with over years, at a time when one could actually make a good living being an author (before Jeff Bezos put an end to it). I mean, Janet Evanovich has her own private plane. These days, even successful authors can barely pay the rent and often need to have second jobs. Thanks, Bezos!

Others Sargent has anecdotes about include Sarah Ferguson (Sergeant headed up her children's book Budgie series), LL Cool J, George Bush, and Pat Conroy (white man syndrome was so strong back then that he was thought the best person to write the sequel to Gone with the Wind AND it would be from Rhett Butler's POV AND he'd kill off Scarlett—yes everyone thought this sounded like a GREAT idea!! Thank god Margaret Michell's estate had a different view on it). There's even a little story in there about meeting Britney Spears at the gym and showing her how to use an iPod.

All in all pretty entertaining, though there was something a bit dry about it, and I didn't come away learning anything about publishing except how capricious it is. Those interesting in the behind-the-scenes of publishing will get their money's worth.

Thank you John Sargent, NetGalley, and the publisher for a copy of Turning Pages in exchange for an honest review.

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I have recommended this book to our Head Librarian because we need more books depicting the real world of publishing.

This book was good. It basically details the world of publishing from someone who has an insider's experience. The stories are interesting and I found myself getting involved in the storytelling. The issue, for me, and this is my issue, I was hoping for a more cohesive story. Because this is done, mainly, through various stories, it lost some of the thread for me. I would have preferred just a more straightforward story, more day to day in the publishing industry.

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