By Jim Calder
Michael Weinstein’s 31-year work history reads like a list of top publishing companies: Macmillan, Pitman Publishing, Addison Wesley, Random House, McGraw-Hill, HarperCollins and Pearson Education, among others. Currently, Weinstein is vice president, EDP (editing, design and production) and manufacturing, at Oxford University Press.
After decades working at some of the most notable companies in the industry and after many professional accomplishments, Weinstein’s career achievements now are being recognized. Weinstein is being inducted into the Publishing Executive Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed on the leading publishing executives in book, magazine and advertising production. And, he is only the second executive from a university press to receive this prestigious award in the Hall of Fame’s 17-year history.
Introduction to Publishing 101
Weinstein attended Lehman College, a branch of the City University of New York.
His first foray into publishing was on staff—and eventually as editor—of the college magazine. “We knew nothing about production, but did it all ourselves,” he says. “It was the blind leading the blind, but those all-night re-write, typing, paste-up sessions hooked me.”
In 1977, Weinstein got his first professional job in publishing at Human Sciences Press in New York. In that position, Weinstein oversaw production of six quarterly journals; bought services like composition (including hot metal) and printing; hired and managed freelance copy editors and proofreaders; designed a journal; designed a book cover; and more.
The Value of Experience
Since then, Weinstein has been employed by 12 different publishing houses. Today, he is putting all that he has learned to use to oversee production, manufacturing and more for Oxford University Press projects produced in the United States—approximately 900 titles per year—including academic, trade, medical, reference, legal titles and Bibles.
“I oversee a staff of approximately 50 people in two locations (New York and Cary, N.C.),” he says. “We’re responsible for [the entire process from] manuscript through [getting the books to the] warehouse—including editing, proofreading, design, production and manufacturing. We’re also responsible for production of companion Web sites.”
He enjoys “working with all parts of the company to figure out the issues (e.g., content management, multiple deliveries, process/workflow, costs, etc.) and moving the department and company forward,” he says.
Sharing the Wisdom
Weinstein feels strongly that people entering publishing today should be prepared to utilize technology extensively. “Technology is a very broad term, and that could mean functioning really well in the world of spreadsheets and databases, the world of InDesign, or the world of XML workflow and simultaneous distribution of content,” he says. “One of the great things about publishing now is that you can get the knowledge or skills to go wherever you want to go [by utilizing technology].”
Weinstein says that another staple you can expect from the industry is constant change. “The role of the publisher [in relation to] the author, how customers want to receive content, the time frame allowed to deliver that content, technologies used, workflows, custom and on-demand publishing—these items and many more have changed greatly, and will continue to change at great rates,” he says.
In fact, Weinstein says that technology’s impact and rate of change are the most significant catalysts he has seen during his career.
“I caught the tail end of hot-metal typesetting, and we’ve already zipped through compositors and desktop publishing, and gone on to self-publishing and simultaneous multiple-channel distribution,” he says. “The changes on the print side have been just as huge—going from film to PDFs that are preflighted online … to digital printing and plate-making machines … .”
Weinstein says that finding “even more” efficiencies in time and money is currently the greatest challenge he faces.
“Production directors are always being asked for more,” he says. “We need to serve the needs of our company without putting our vendors out of business. It means being more creative … ,” he says.
They Knew Him When …
Sandra Steiner, executive director of the Adams County Education Consortium—who hired Weinstein as the director of production for Prentice Hall Business Publishing in the late 1980s—says, “[He is an] outstanding choice of a recipient for this award. Michael is one of the most progressive managers I have ever known.”
Steiner believes one of Weinstein’s greatest strengths is having an inclusive management style that is critical to transforming a department.
“He is constantly looking for ways to sensibly innovate, to enhance opportunities, and never forgets that the people of his department and his authors are … the support he needs to achieve the great success only possible through collaboration,” she says.
Peter Conway—vice president of Courier Cos. Inc., a book publisher, printer and seller located in North Chelmsford, Mass.—has known Weinstein for more than 15 years. “Michael’s greatest strength is his ability to understand what is important and what is not,” he says. “It’s not that he disregards the ‘not important’ stuff, but he focuses on the important tasks first.”
Conway adds, “I think Michael is a genuine, nice guy, who happens to be in the publishing industry.”
Besides being a nice guy, Weinstein is also very passionate about promoting literacy. He is proud of his work as co-chairman of the Bookbinders’ Guild of New York Charity Committee for the past 15 years, which has raised $300,000. All of the funds raised go to local organizations helping those who have made the commitment to learn. BB