By Edward Nawotka
“Today’s reports about the demise of book publishing are no different than the same things that have been said throughout the history of the printed word,” said Geoffrey Kloske [at left], VP and publisher of Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, speaking on the eve of Book Expo America. “And yet good books still get published, readers are buying them and we’re still here.”
The occasion was a panel discussion convened by the Association of American Publishers and the American Booksellers Association to advise recent hires in the publishing business about opportunities in their future. “Work like hell,” advised Geoff Shandler, editor-in-chief of Little, Brown and Company, a subsidiary of the Hachette Book Group. “And remember that while publishing can be a struggle at times, it also has tremendous rewards.”
Neither executive indulged the cynicism that is so fashionable when discussing this year’s convention. Yes, this year’s show will be smaller, with a number of large publishers opting out of exhibiting, but many of the same individuals who would previously have been bound to their booths will be walking the floor. For most, it’s expected to be business as usual.
Shandler took a few minutes to share his expectations for this year’s convention with Publishing Perspectives, and he appeared altogether buoyant.
But is Shandler’s optimism an aberration?
To find out, we surveyed a trio of other publishing insiders about their thoughts, concerns and current projects going into this year’s BEA.
Tina Jordan, vice-president of the Association of American Publishers, calls the scaled-down show “right sized,” emphasizing it’s still a “fabulous opportunity” to reach booksellers and decision makers.
Chad Post, director of Open Letter Press, says that this is the year BEA will decide if it needs to change and, like Frankfurt, open its doors to the public.
Jerome Kramer, industry consultant, talks about how digital innovation is changing the dynamic of publishing. He also describes his current project: An effort to establish a Museum of American Literature.