Branding Bellevue for Books


By Carmen Comment

Publishing and one of New York City’s oldest medical institutions – long a punchline related to mental illness or criminal derangement – don’t necessarily go together. But as the New York Times’ Julie Bosman found out, Bellevue Hospital is set to launch its own in-house press in early April, Bellevue Literary Press, with four spring titles, both nonfiction and fiction, all medical or scientific in nature yet written for a general audience. It may not the only publisher to be operated from a medical center (there is the Cleveland Clinic Press, for one) but given the role that Bellevue Hospital has played in the imagination of New York and the nation, Bosman writes, it is perhaps the most curious.

“Whatever notions I had about people coming to Bellevue in shackles and wild hair have been long ago dispelled,” said Erika Goldman, a veteran of publishing houses like Simon & Schuster and Scribner’s and the imprint’s editorial director. “But coming into a hospital every day to come to my little office and do publishing is a very different experience.” And she, as well as publisher Jerome Lowenstein (whose original literary journal Bellevue Literary Review was the impetus for the publishing imprint) harbor no illusions about the connotations of the Bellevue name. Younger folks may forget, but older generations have not. “hey just think of Bellevue as a psychiatric ward.”