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Typo: The Last American Typesetter, or How I Lost $4 Million

Typo: The Last American Typesetter, or How I Lost $4 Million

by David Silverman

Published by Soft Skull

$16.95

Two months before David Silverman's 32nd birthday, he went to the Charles Schwab branch in the basement of the World Trade Center to wire his father's life savings for the purchase of the Clarinda typesetting company in Clarinda, Iowa.

He and his business partner and mentor, Dan Coyne, a late-middle-aged professional manager, planned to turn around the 50-year-old typesetting company, then raise venture capital for a "roll-up" of the then mom-and-pop industry scattered over the farmlands of the Midwest that were crucial to the big textbook publishers like Pearson, Harcourt and McGraw Hill in New York City. They would then take the company public and make millions.

It wouldn't be easy. Clarinda had been losing money for years and was essentially in receivership. India-based competition was driving prices lower every day. Publishers were merging and needed to cut costs to cover their self-inflicted debts. And morale among the aging workforce in Iowa was at an all-time low. This was no dot com play.

Typo tells the true story of 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. Typo is an American Dream run aground told with humor and moments of tragedy. The story reveals the impact of losing an entire industry and answers questions about what that means for American business. The reader sees in Clarinda's fate the peril faced by Everycompany, and the lessons learned are applicable to anyone who wants to have their own business, to succeed in a large corporation and not to find themselves stranded by the reality of shifting markets, outsourcing, and ultimately, capitalism itself.