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Jason Epstein, Editor and Publishing Innovator, Is Dead at 93

“Eating” was based on a cooking column Mr. Epstein wrote for The New York Times in the early 2000s. Its recipes were drawn from cooking experiences that went as far back as his childhood visits to Maine, where he would watch his grandmother cook in the warmth of her wintertime kitchen.

Jason Epstein was born on Aug. 25, 1928, in Cambridge, Mass., to Robert Epstein, a partner in the family textile business, and Gladys (Shapiro) Epstein, a homemaker. He grew up in the Boston suburb of Milton and, an avid reader, graduated from high school at 15.

Though much younger than other college-bound peers, he enrolled at Columbia immediately; among his teachers were the scholars Eric Bentley, Mark Van Doren, Joseph Wood Krutch and Lionel Trilling. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1949 and a master’s in 1950, both in English.

After Doubleday hired him, he courted and, in 1954, married Barbara Zimmerman, another ambitious young Doubleday editor from Boston, whose father knew Mr. Epstein’s. She had distinguished herself at the house by editing Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl” (1952). They went on to be labeled the first couple of publishing, high-profile book editors whose dinner parties were intellectual feasts meriting mention in Edmund Wilson’s journals.

The marriage ended in 1980. In 1993 he married Judith Miller, then a reporter at The New York Times, who survives him. In addition to Helen Epstein, his daughter from his first marriage, Mr. Epstein is also survived by another child from that marriage, Jacob, and three grandchildren. Barbara Epstein died in 2006.

Mr. Epstein moved to Random House in 1958, hired by Bennett Cerf, the company’s co-founder. He left Doubleday in part out of dismay that it had refused, on grounds of taste, to publish “Lolita,” Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel about a middle-aged man’s obsession and affair with a very young girl. Mr. Epstein had published Nabokov’s writing in his quarterly The Anchor Review.

Mr. Epstein and Mr. Cerf worked out an arrangement whereby Mr. Epstein would bring in and edit books while being free to start up businesses of his own, providing there was no conflict.

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