Editor's Note: A Glow Among the Gloom
It’s the first issue of the new year, and I am certainly in a pensive mood. Partially because the start of a new year tends to incite introspection among many of us, as well as re-evaluation of our business state and direction. But mostly, I am pensive because of the very thing we write about, issue after issue, year after year: a book. Earlier this week, I finished reading “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” (the print edition) and am just, once again, blown away by the impact of what you, our readers, do.
Some time ago, Edgar did not exist in this world, and now for thousands of the population, he is as real as this magazine. People have hoped for him, wept for him, dreamt of him and possibly even prayed for him. For days after reading the book, I found Edgar or Almondine sneaking into my consciousness when I least expected it. I found it difficult to sleep some nights. It held me captive in a way that few, if any, movies have ever done. And it has stayed with me far longer.
The author created life from nothing—save his imagination. And the publisher brought the brilliant story and beautiful writing to the masses, and to me.
I do not write this to plug “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.” On the contrary, I don’t particularly like to mention one reader’s books over another’s. But I was so compelled after reading this book that it just made the magic of publishing seem almost overwhelming. What you do changes lives. Especially at a time when the phrase “doom and gloom” is used so frequently that I would be glad to never hear it again in my entire life, it can be easy to forget this. When your day is crowded with battles against rising manufacturing costs, distribution challenges, rights issues, digital media questions, staffing problems, economic woes and the risk of developing new business models for the changing market—you name it—it is easy for the brilliance of this field to fade away into a distant glow.
As many of you may also be finding yourselves particularly introspective at this time of year, and perhaps a little battered and bruised from this business’ roughness, I think it’s worth turning the focus back to the glow every now and then.
Our Brand-New Column and Other Changes
And, as the new year begins, we have made some exciting changes to our content. First, we’ve launched a brand-new piece called “$-Savers” (page 7). It will alternate with another new feature “Time-Savers” in each issue, and features tips provided by our readers, your peers. Thanks to all of you who so graciously shared your ideas for helping other publishers cut costs and do more with less—two of the biggest challenges publishing executives face today. (If you want to share with other Book Business readers what you’ve done in your organization to save time and money, you can submit your ideas for publication in Book Business at: BookBusinessMag.com/survey. Every idea has the potential of strengthening the industry, if little by little, company by company—sort of like the story about the woman who planted one sunflower a day on a hillside; after a few years, the hillside was a sea of beautiful sunflowers.
We’ve also introduced a brand-new column in this issue—the very special “Guest Columnist,” where a different industry thought-leader will write for us in each issue. First up is industry consultant and analyst Mike Shatzkin (page 26), who no doubt, many of you know. If you don’t know his name, he’s a good person to keep your eye on. He shares his perspectives on what the industry will look like a number of years from now, and I think you’ll find it fascinating.
We’ve also moved Andrew Brenneman’s popular “Digital Directions” column to the back page of every issue.
It’s a real honor to be able to bring the words of our amazing contributors to you to help you do your magic. Thanks to our many loyal advertisers who make it possible for us to do so. And, thank you for reading ... Happy New Year!