The Last Bookaneer
By Matthew Pearl
ARC e-book, 400 pages (hardcover)
2015, Penguin Press
ISBN: 9781594204920 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: April 28, 2015
I received this book for free from Penguin’s First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
From First to Read: book’a-neer’ (bŏŏk’kå-nēr’), n. a literary pirate; an individual capable of doing all that must be done in the universe of books that publishers, authors, and readers must not have a part in. London, 1890—Pen Davenport is the most infamous bookaneer in Europe. A master of disguise, he makes his living stalking harbors, coffeehouses, and print shops for the latest manuscript to steal. But this golden age of publishing is on the verge of collapse. For a hundred years, loose copyright laws and a hungry reading public created a unique opportunity: books could easily be published without an author’s permission. Authors gained fame but suffered financially—Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few—but publishers reaped enormous profits while readers bought books inexpensively. Yet on the eve of the twentieth century, a new international treaty is signed to grind this literary underground to a sharp halt. The bookaneers are on the verge of extinction.