John Tebbel, 91, Writer and Historian of Publishing
A newspaperman by training, Mr. Tebbel worked in nearly every aspect of publishing, as a reporter, journalism professor, magazine and book editor, historical novelist and the author of more than two dozen nonfiction books. A former chairman of New York University's journalism department, he was also the first director of the university's Graduate Institute of Book Publishing, founded in 1958.
Mr. Tebbel's best-known work was ''A History of Book Publishing in the United States'' (Bowker), a 20-year undertaking published in four volumes from 1972 to 1980. His other books include ''An American Dynasty: The Story of the McCormicks, Medills and Pattersons'' (1947), ''The Life and Good Times of William Randolph Hearst'' (1952), ''The American Magazine: A Compact History'' (1969) and the novels ''Touched With Fire'' (1952) and ''A Voice in the Streets'' (1954).
John William Tebbel was born Nov. 16, 1912, in Boyne City, Mich. As he recalled in 1990 for the reference series Contemporary Authors: ''At 10, living on a farm in the middle of Michigan, with Manhattan as remote from me as the moon, I told inquiring relatives that when I grew up I intended to go to New York and be a writer.''
He did, but not before landing his first reporting job, at 14, as a stringer for The Mount Pleasant Times in Michigan. He earned a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan College in 1935 and a master's degree from the Columbia Journalism School two years later.
In the late 1930's and the 40's, Mr. Tebbel was a reporter at The Detroit Free Press, a writer and editor at The Providence Journal, managing editor of The American Mercury and a book editor at E.P. Dutton. In 1943 he was a staff writer in the Sunday department of The New York Times. He was an instructor at Columbia's journalism school and taught at N.Y.U. from 1949 to 1976.
Besides his wife, the former Kathryn Carl, Mr. Tebbel is survived by a brother, Robert, of Hohberg, Germany; a daughter, Elaine, of Vernon, Conn.; a grandchild; and two great-grandchildren.