NOTHING LIKE PARIS: Times have changed, but the Paris Review won’t. Editor Lorin Stein appeared with three of his deputies at McNally Jackson Books on Prince Street Thursday night to talk about publishing a literary quarterly in the online age. “[The Web] doesn’t change really what we’re doing in the paper at all,” Stein said.
This story first appeared in the January 10, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
When he took over from Philip Gourevitch last March, Stein hired a Web editor, Thessaly La Force, from The New Yorker and relaunched the Review’s Web site. Since then, the staff has started publishing one or two items online every day — blogging in quarterly time. There’s no aggregation (“It’s not what we do,” La Force said) and the Review will never publish fiction online. “I don’t think any of us has a principled objection to printing fiction online. I hope there’s more and more of that,” Stein said. “It’s not what we do.”
So what do they do? In June, Stein started a semi-regular “Ask the Paris Review” Web feature. On Friday morning, he posted a response to questions submitted by two readers. This one from Edie: “Someone recently yelled at my friend for not inviting another friend to his party. I say, it’s [a] right not a privilege. But my friend sucked it up, and apologized—even though everyone agrees that that person was totally out of line. What would you have done?” Stein said it depends. Another reader was looking for an expert opinion on which translation of Proust he should read.
Stein said he’s considering creating a digital edition of the Revew for e-readers but, “as someone who has never successfully read a book on a handheld device,” wasn’t interested in speculating on the details.
When the panel at McNally Jackson began taking questions, one audience member asked if the Internet had changed the print edition at all. “I would say yes and no,” Stein said. He recalled a fight he had with senior editor David Wallace-Wells recently over whether they could stomach printing a URL in a work of fiction. “I thought it was vulgar in exactly the right way. David thought it was vulgar in exactly the most disgusting way. Part of the idea is to offload that instantaneousness so that we can make something you’ll keep on your bookshelf forever.”